March 29, 2011
Our latest project here at newsonaut is keeping tabs on the candidates through social media. I’ve set up a special page called Follow the Candidates that carries Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds and Google keyword searches for the five people in the running to be our member of Parliament.
As I was setting up the page, I was struck by how far ahead Tory Cathy McLeod is when it comes to Twitter. She already has hundreds of followers and hundreds of tweets. As the sitting member of Parliament, it could be that she has paid staff to help, but still — it’s not that hard to set up a Twitter account and pound out a tweet now and then. It’s especially inexcusable for Michael Crawford, who has run for the NDP twice before and has been, in a sense, campaigning for years. He could have used that time to build up a solid base of followers and create a public Facebook page.
While Twitter gets a lot of attention, Facebook is probably more important when it comes to social media. It has far more members, and it does a better job of networking. It also makes it easier for people to engage in conversation or debate. In the U.S., some politicians have encouraged discussion with voters on their Facebook pages, and have found it to be a good way to bring some civility to the give-and-take of politics.
Donovan Cavers of the Green Party and McLeod are the only two candidates with public Facebook pages. Crawford has one, but you have to “friend” him to get access. Cavers has been doing a great job on Facebook with his carbon challenge to the other candidates and embedding a video. He’s also made Facebook and Twitter work together — pointing out the Facebook challenge from Twitter, then getting into a round of tweet talk with McLeod about it. McLeod’s Facebook page is a bit of a disappointment, with just a few announcements on it. She could do much better.
Murray Todd has only been a Liberal candidate for a couple of months, and it looks like he’s still getting the hang of Twitter. You’d think that party advisers might help him get more on the ball.
I’m not sure what to say about Chris Kemling of the Christian Heritage Party. He’s nowhere to be found on Twitter or Facebook. He might be a long shot at getting elected, but he could at least use the campaign as an opportunity to put forth his ideas and perhaps sway public opinion on the issues that are important to him.