Just what role does social media play in Canadian politics? A pretty big one by the amount of coverage it’s been getting over the past few weeks. I’m starting a new role with social media on Jim Carr’s campaign and I’m really excited about the opportunity to start using all the research and best practices that I’ve uncovered. I think the biggest thing I’ve discovered, is that you have to know your audience and know your platforms.
I really enjoyed reading this article from Politico.com on How Social Media Is Ruining Politics. It talks a lot about the Obama campaigns and how that was really the reckoning of social media in US politics. I don’t know that I would necessarily agree that’s the case here in Canada, but there is definitely a change underway and it’s unclear yet just how much it will impact politics here in Canada.
I think the biggest thing that politicians especially need to know is that while social media can give them another avenue to connect with voters, there is still the need to be authentic. People can tell when something is forced or not genuine, and the biggest fail that politicians make is trying to be all things to all people. This article from iPolitics goes into depth about 2014 and MP’s social media habits – I feel it’s a good read. The most interesting comment I pulled from it was this:
Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett is the House’s most frequent user of Twitter — sending out 140-character missives an average of 24 times a day. Next in line is Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at 14 tweets a day and New Democrat Jinny Sims, who tweets 13 times each day. The most active Conservative tweeter, Michelle Rempel, came in fourth with 12 tweets a day
On Tuesday, CBC had a great panel about ‘digital doorknocking’ on their Power and Politics segment with some pretty heavy hitters; Steve Ladurantaye (Head of News and Government Partnerships at Twitter Canada), Ramona Pringle (digital media specialist) and Andrew MacDougall (former D.Comms for PM Stephen Harper). I think it was such a great segment highlighting the evolution of social media since the last federal election. Check it out here:
I have many friends who believe that it social media makes absolutely no impact in an election. I have other friends who believe that it is a game changer. I don’t agree with either extreme, because I believe that while there is a role for it in our politics today, I don’t believe that it should be the ‘be all and end all.’ I don’t think it should ever come at the expense of other, tangible, return on investment activities like door knocking and fundraising. Those are the most important activities and should always come first.
What do you think about the role of social media in politics?