Social media may feel pretty mundane for those of us who have more sets of log-in credentials than fingers and toes, but in the political game a lot of these tools are still very new. Social media favors the fun, the timely, the shareable, and the creative. Here is a re-cap of the best and worst attempts at social media use by Liberal leadership candidates.
Best: Google Plus may not be the most popular social networking site on the market, but the Trudeau camp found an effective way to use it in order to connect with supporters via “Google Hangout.” They then posted the video to YouTube for those who missed it.
Worst: Marc Garneau’s interpretation of “plastering himself across the Internet” was, perhaps, a bit too literal. I count fourteen Marc Garneau’s in this single screen shot of his Facebook profile. A nice headshot may say ”integrity” and “leadership” but fourteen says “I hope nobody is on here enough to notice.”
Best: Martin Cauchon’s quick and quirky YouTube videos. They are simple, shareable, and a little silly.
Worst: The “Restoring the Canadian Advantage” banner David Bertschi splashed across his Facebook page featured a hard to read font in a near Conservative hue. Repeated poor placement makes you wonder if anyone on his team ever actually took a peak at the Facebook page.
Quick tip: If it looks bad people probably won’t like it. Literally. Less than a dozen Facebook likes, even Garneau’s 14 times repeated headshot got more Facebook support.
Best: Creative images that are informative and easily shared offer the best odds for convincing politicos to rally behind you. Deborah Coyne’s “policy road map” is colorful and easy to understand. Martha Hall Findlay’s “International Women’s Day” history of women in Canadian politics was a clever way to get her brand out to a wider audience.
Worst: Every candidate’s use of Flickr. If you are not going to update regularly, connect to your website, or make it interesting, it isn’t worth it. Trudeau, Hall Findlay, Murray – they all have public Flickr profiles, none of which are particularly awe-inspiring. If there is no audience you want to connect with, it is probably a waste of your time.
Best: The five candidates who took the plunge and did Reddit AMA (ask me anything) sessions. Reddit, specifically the Canadian politics subreddit, is a vibrant but unique community. It takes some skill (and courage) to enter into an “ask me anything” conversation on Reddiit. Redditers are a fairly unknown public for most politicians and figuring out how to engage can be tough.
Worst: Connecting Twitter and Facebook under the assumption that anything relevant to a Twitter audience will also be interesting for the Facebook supporters. Murray and Hall Findlay were the worst offenders often re-tweeting and replying to multiple tweets in the span of a few minutes. On Twitter a stream of posts in quick succession is standard; on Facebook it is a hostile newsfeed take-over.
Best: Justin Trudeau’s “your photos” section of his website integrates photos tagged on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook as well as those sent via email. It is a fun way to illustrate engagement .
The most impressive campaigns will use a variety of tools to connect with particular segments of the population, stringing everything together with a consistent theme. Twitter and Facebook may come at no up-front cost but politics isn’t cheap, as so many of those emails kindly reminded us, the cost of social media is a lot of time and energy.