Alberta Politics

trial by error: political parties still learning how to use social media.

The Alberta NDP Caucus ran into some unexpected problems on Facebook late last week while trying to gain some online attention to their new Facebook Group urging Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman to join their two-MLA caucus. When trying to invite their supporters to the new Facebook Group, the NDP did not at first realize that a feature of the new Facebook Groups would automatically add users to the group, rather than request an invitation to join.

Another unexpected feature of the new Facebook Group sent emails to each of the almost 300 group members each time someone posted on the Group’s Wall, resulting in a slew of predictably irritable and confused responses from members who had been automatically added.

NDP Director of Outreach Rob Pearson posted an apology message to members of the Facebook Group on Friday afternoon:

I apologise for the auto-adding of members who were opposed to membership of this group. We have lost administrative power and suggest you remove yourself by clicking the “Leave Group” icon on the right side of the page.

The intent of this group was definitely not to propose to decide for you. With facebooks ever changing formats, and methods of informing people we began inviting people and soon found they were automatically subscribed. Again we apologize.

Please be patient or remove yourself if you do not approve of this current setup. A more appropriate page has been set up if you would prefer to show support via fan page.

(It is not clear why or how the NDP Caucus lost administrative control of their Facebook Group)

A final tweet from Edmonton-Calder PC MLA Doug Elniski. Thanks to @ChrisHenderson for the screenshot.

Elniski’s Final Tweet

Most politicians are eager to showcase their ability or to learn how to use social media to connect with citizens, but Edmonton-Calder PC MLA Doug Elniski quietly exited from the Twitterverse on January 13, 2011. In a final Tweet, Mr. Elniski invoked the words of writer and dramatist Douglas Adams.

The first term MLA has become known for his honesty, which has earned him a reputation for putting his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion.

9 replies on “trial by error: political parties still learning how to use social media.”

Thanks for the comment, Cody. There’s a lot of things thy I could blog about. These two examples of how politicians are using and leaning how to use social media is what I found interesting tonight.

Check out the blog tomorrow for two more posts.

IMO, this is just another example of :-)spook constantly changing its settings, with the results being that more information is ‘accidentally’ provided to third-party clients.

The “Raj Against the Machine” graphic dates back to former Alberta NDP leader Raj Pannu, and has nothing to do with Raj Sherman other than a shared first name.

Poking a little fun at the NDP for a screw up is fair game, but a little more context is in order.

The NDP is, by far, the most effective users of Facebook among Alberta political parties.

Check out the size of the friend lists of Rachel Notley, Brian Mason, Lewis Cardinal, Linda Duncan and even Sarah Hoffman. They are far bigger than the contacts of other Alberta politicians, even the ones praised by this blog and others for their ‘effective use of social media.’

The NDP uses Facebook to promote events, to deliver political messages, to receive feedback and interact with the public, to humanize the faces of their politicians, and to fund raise.

And while their first attempt to use Facebook to draft Sherman wasn’t successful, they have another page going on it now, and no one else even came up with the idea.

That alternate page by the way, can be found here: (since Dave didn’t see fit to post the link) and it has about 275 fans at the moment.

Badgering people into joining these groups by inviting all of your friends and encouraging all new group members to do the same is not the most effective social media strategy ever invented, Lou. While I might be a member of your groups, it has more to do with being tired of rejecting the invites than it does to do with be interested or supportive. Which, incidentally, is the same reason I’m a “fan” of everything Greenpeace does. I’m not saying that the NDP don’t have an impressive social media presence, but number of followers doesn’t tell the whole story.

Also, as far as I’m aware, Sarah Hoffman is not sitting on the School Board as an NDP representative. If she is, she might want to clarify that with her constituents.

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