Twitter and Facebook engagement since the election was announced

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become an integral part of political campaigns, creating an avenue for easy and instant communication between the candidates and their constituents.

While it may be impossible to determine which party has been “better” at using social media over the past few weeks, The Calgary Journal has taken a look at which parties and candidates in Calgary have been using social media most actively since the 2012 provincial election was called. Check out our infographic of the findings here.

Data was collected from March 26 to April 9.

The success of a social media campaign is difficult to measure empirically, with Alberta’s NDP social media and communications officer John Ashton saying, “In terms of metrics it’s very hard. We simply haven’t wrapped our heads around – collectively as a society – how to choose metrics on how well somebody’s doing or how poorly somebody’s doing.”

According to Ashton, good social media engagement is all about “sending out a message and listening to what’s coming back to us, and having a conversation.”

Twitter has become a larger part of that conversation since the last provincial election in 2008. One of the differences between the 2008 provincial election and 2012 is the growing focus on Twitter engagement, as Twitter “was not quite as big a deal” four years ago, said Ashton.Click the image for the full infographic.
Illustration by: Matt Kennedy

He said running a strong social media campaign involves being on top of the changing technology, and that “you have to pay very close attention if you want to use it right and stay ahead of the curve.”

Richard Einarson, director of online for the Alberta Party and former communications director for Naheed Nenshi’s mayoral campaign, sees social media as having a positive effect on politicians’ ability to communicate with their constituents.

“I think it has a huge effect [on politics],” said Einarson. “During an election it gives people a way to spread a message to a wider audience of people that they’re associated with. It has the effect of reducing the important big money ad campaigns. People can now get a better sense of who some of their friends that they trust are voting for.”

Sandra Jansen, PC candidate in Calgary-North West, says social media has replaced other platforms as the primary tool used by constituents making requests for information or looking for clarification on policy.

“Anything like that comes to us through Facebook,” said Jansen. “It’s amazing how much we use it.”

Jansen has also been very active on Twitter, with only two PC candidates in Calgary having tweeted more frequently since the election was announced.

“[Twitter] can really be a catalyst for bringing people together. It really creates a sense of immediacy. I go on Twitter every day to keep track of my followers and to keep track of the people I’m following,” said Jansen.

Jansen also sees social media as having a positive effect on Canadian politics.

“When someone’s thinking about something and they have a concern they want to express to their government it used to be a very complicated thing to be able to get a hold of a politician,” Jansen said, “and now you’ve removed all those barriers to really good communication with an MLA.”

As we get closer to the election communication through social media will likely continue to ramp up, but for now check out who has been most involved in the online conversation so far here.

mkennedy@cjournal.ca