Over the past two weeks, I have had the pleasure of joining those energetic morning people, Bridget Ryan and Ryan Jespersen on Edmonton’s Breakfast Television to talk about social media and the federal election (you can watch this week’s segment here).
Levels of Twitter-ability among some local election candidates varies. While some candidates, like Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont Conservative candidate Mike Lake, Edmonton-Strathcona Conservative Ryan Hastman, and Edmonton-Centre Liberal Mary MacDonald, have or are beginning to demonstrate an more nuanced understanding of Twitter, the social media literacy of most candidates appears to be lacking. It makes me wonder if some candidates just checked off “social media” on their campaign do-list, but are not sure why they are actually doing it.
Most candidates have begun their Tweets and Facebook Pages to blast out one-way messages about 1) how great their campaign is going, 2) how awesome their party leaders are, 3) how amazing their party’s policies are, or 4) how terrible the other parties/leaders and their policies are for Canada. For example, only three of the last 50 tweets posted by Edmonton-Centre Conservative MP Laurie Hawn have been responses to other twitter users. The remaining 47 tweets fit into the previously mentioned four categories.
Yelling loudly in a room packed with people
Operating in a one-way social media bubble obviously lessens the chance of making embarrassing mistakes, but makes for a boring Twitter feed. A friend described recently, sending one way Tweets is kind of like standing in a crowded room and yelling. Believe me, election candidates, you probably do not want to be “that guy.”
At least in the first two weeks of the Federal Election campaign, I have found many members of the national media to be the most engaging and interesting people to follow on Twitter. Follow @Kady @ScottFeschuk and @DavidAkin to see what I mean.
Creative online ads
On a more cheeky and creative side of the online campaign, both the Liberals and NDP have created two ads that have caught the attention of some online users:
Hey Stephen Harper, stop creeping me on Facebook!
NDP Hamster Wheel Ad
Remember, social media is a tool.
As I have written before, it is important to remember that social media is a tool. Social media is an important additional tool to complement traditional campaigning, but it does not replace actually connecting citizens in-person.