Twitter: The new church basement

First of all, I’m a numbers guy. When I saw a post from Fraser Strategies saying that my former MP had left Twitter, I wanted to crunch the numbers.

The NDP member of parliament for Timmins-James Bay, Charlie Angus, had in fact, left Twitter. I’m not disappointed in Angus, or his advisors, but I am disappointed for the 4,441 (and growing!) of us who followed him on Twitter. Here are a few numbers on what this means.

4,441 : followers on Twitter

54 : people he was following on Twitter

81,957 : population of the Timmins-James Bay riding

246,275.67 : square kilometers in the riding

24  : number of people he visited during a 90 minute town hall meeting

Expanding on some of these numbers, if Angus is to allow his constituents to ask him questions directly, in groups of 24 participants, it would take him roughly 3,415 visits. In 90 minute meetings, working 12 hour days, it would take him roughly 426 days to meet with these constituents.

Now, I commend Angus for joining Twitter and representing his constituents and especially, for the awareness he built through Twitter for the residents in Attawapiskat. However, the irony in his leaving Twitter,I will leave as fodder for the Twitterverse.

Finally, for anyone participating in Twitter, it serves as a reminder that Twitter is not a megaphone on top of a hill, it’s a really big church basement.

Social Media’s Impact on Politics

The most recent Ontario election has left me wondering whether or not the results were impacted by the activities of the candidates on Social Media. With that, I decided to take a look at 3 races where an underdog came up to take the win in a close race. This will hopefully give us an idea as to whether social media may have had a positive influence on voters. Through these 3 races, I’ve tabled the social score of Facebook fans/friends + Twitter Klout score in order to establish which candidate is interacting more effectively with constituents online.
 

 Trinity-Spadina    

It’s easy to see in this case who had the handle on their “handles” with Thomson dominating social media. This landslide was explained by Marchese’s Facebook presence with his high privacy settings on his profile and he had linked his Twitter account to auto-update his Facebook status – classic mistake, no one wants to chat with a robot. Meanwhile, Thomson’s efforts of engaging posts and interactions were impressive. While this didn’t translate to a seat in office, the race was much closer than the anticipated result of Marchese doubling up on Thomson.
 
 Ottawa Centre

Naidoo held a 12 point lead however was trounced it the polls, similarly, in Klout score. As for Facebook, Naidoo had no updates to his personal profile close to election time and few interactive posts on his Facebook page. Naqvi was not much better on Facebook, with few updates but a much higher response rate on his page. Where Naqvi separated himself was in his use of Twitter, with a true reach of over 1K (175 for Naidoo) his tweets were focused and influential. In this case, again, use of social media was a pre-cursor for an unexpected result. 

Northumberland-Quinte West

In conclusion, the results have shown that the social media presences of these underdogs had a tangible impact on the end result of the elections. It is safe to assume that social media in general has a positive impact on ridings but may be further influential for city centre ridings. For me, what has been proven here, is that the impact of social media must be measured by political campaigns in order to properly gauge their polls.

Time will tell whether the winners of the election can properly use these tools in order to keep listening to their voters, or at least make the voters feel like they are ;)

This 10 point lead for Rinaldi disappeared quickly on election night as he was supplanted by teacher and beef farmer Rob Milligan. Rinaldi was non-existent on Facebook but did have a small presence on Twitter with a true reach of 148. His handle was the unassuming @VoteLouRinaldi and he rarely had tweets of any relevance, other than when he congratulated his competitor @RobMilliganPC. While Milligan’s usage of Twitter was not impressive either, his Facebook presence was tangible with updates and a significant amount of followers. While this riding did not prove the same result, however it did show us that this rural riding (and potentially others like it) may be less likely to be influenced by social media. 

Elections 2.0

With the government of Canada announcing a May 2nd election, it prompts me to think that there will certainly be a new type of campaign this April.

Politicians will rely heavily on social media support from their most loyal partisans and use all resources at their disposal to sway the undecided. Already, I’ve seen Ignatief and the liberals reserve the headline ad of facebook with a 30 second spot from Michael.

I will be closely following the evolution as well as the new initiatives that will certainly emerge. I doubt it will be enough to simply have a page and create a discussion. The winners will have to innovate, persuade and deliver.

Carpe diem.