They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a candidate by their tweets?

Social media has become an increasingly important part of not only our daily lives, but has proven to be important politically.

In the 2010 municipal election, Twitter was credited as a huge tool for Nenshi’s success, partially because of his ability to engage with his audience.

As reported by the Calgary Herald on Oct. 13, in their story “Nenshi winning Twitter war, suggests social media analysis,” vice-president of analytics for Mainstreet Research Joseph Angolano says that Nenshi’s Twitter account has seen nearly triple the amount of activity compared to challenger Bill Smith’s page in the current election.

According to Angolano, where Nenshi saw 17,276 Twitter responses, Smith only saw 6,392 between Oct. 2 and Oct. 12.

“The mayor’s supporters have always been a younger demographic and it’s not surprising to see his supporters following social media more,” Angolano shared with the Herald.

Because of the huge role Twitter has played in previous elections, we decided to take a look at how the mayoral candidates for this election are utilizing Twitter.

A breakdown of the number of tweets made on each of the candidate’s Twitter pages since their creation. Some of the candidates tweet more than others, some have had their accounts longer, while some just don’t use Twitter very often. Note that Heather and Nenshi’s results are not to scale because of the vast difference in number of tweets. 

Jason Achtymichuk (Jason GoGo)

Twitter: @jasongogo

Achtymichuk has been a Twitter user since 2009, but only recently picked up tweeting with regularity on Sept. 18. Although not a prolific user by some standards (330 tweets as of Oct. 15, 2017), Achtymichuk is a regular retweeter, with his own commentary to add. These additions often run the gamut from serious to joking, but all remain election related.

A frequent topic on Achtymichuk’s feed is the exclusion of candidates from debates or media events. From a forum on Sept. 27, 2017 where he had not been invited, and Bill Smith had not attended, Achtymichuk was critical, saying that the forum had been “boring”.

On Oct. 6, Achtymichuk retweeted a series of tweets by user @ThisIsMeCassie discussing the regulation of cannabis. In a following tweet, Achtymichuk says that no other candidate is discussing the legalization of marijuana in July 2018. Achtymichuk has commented on the subject primarily through his Twitter account.

Achtymichuk is following 120 other accounts on Twitter. These accounts are mostly other politicians in office, or hopefuls running in the election. Alongside this, he also is following local news organizations such as CTV News Calgary, and HuffPost Alberta. His followers, clocking in at 339 as of Oct. 15, 2017, are largely local individuals and businesses, as well as other candidates, and political accounts.

Andre Chabot

Twitter: @chabot4calgary

With only 167 tweets as of Oct. 15, 2017, Chabot is the mayoral candidate with the third number of tweets. Chabot’s Twitter account was created February 2017 for campaigning purposes. One of Chabot’s main Twitter tactics is responding to noteworthy tweets from others to add his voice to the conversation. Additionally, he often notifies followers of future events he will be taking part in.

Of his 167 total tweets, 21 have been retweets from journalist Sarah Lawrynuik of CBC (@SarahLawrynuik) on the night of Oct. 2, 2017 from the Chamber of Commerce Debates event at the Palace Theatre. These retweets contain either summaries or direct quotes, of his answers from the debate.

Chabot often retweets content involving him and his campaign. He replies to several tweets weekly, and does not shy away from answering bluntly.

Rather than engaging with his audience to clear up misinformation, Chabot simply tells Twitter user @403Steve that he has the wrong facts.

Chabot is following 1,840 other Twitter accounts. From following many individuals, to other politicians, like Kent Hehr, or political hopefuls running in the election, to oil and gas companies, journalists and various organizations and local businesses, Chabot follows a wide variety.  

Emile Gabriel

Twitter: @Gabriel4Mayor

Since joining Twitter in August, Gabriel is the candidate with the least number of tweets. With only 42 tweets as of Oct. 15, Gabriel tweets once or twice a day, often missing days in between.

The 42 tweets that populate Gabriel’s account feature tweets produced by his campaign, but include no retweets or replies. Notably, Gabriel also does not use hashtags, including #yycvote which has been used for discussion and sharing information over the course of the election campaigns.

Gabriel’s tweets often discuss what he will do for the city when he is elected mayor and sometimes contain criticism of other candidates. He recently clarified his feelings about one of his frequent targets, incumbent mayor Naheed Nenshi.

More recently, Gabriel’s tweets have shown comparison tables between himself and other candidates.

Gabriel follows 916 Twitter users. These include politicians and candidates at all levels, from municipal to federal, as well as many local individuals, with a strong presence of university students and teachers. His 125 followers include fellow candidates and individuals throughout the city, with the exception of a few local organizations including the Calgary-Centre Conservatives (@yyccentreCPC).

Larry Heather

Twitter: @CalgarySenate

Larry Heather is a prolific tweeter. With over 55,000 tweets since joining in September 2013, Heather has the second highest tweet count behind Nenshi. Heather’s Twitter feed is far from comparable to the other candidates. Rather than using Twitter solely for campaigning purposes, Heather shares many personal viewpoints on issues not being discussed in this municipal election while still incorporating his stance on more topical issues. Many of his tweets are religious in nature.

Additionally, Heather’s tweets sometimes lack context as evident in the tweet below.

Heather is following 619 accounts including one called Canada Media Bias (@CanadaMediaBias) aiming to “expose the liberal bias in Canadian and International media.” Other accounts followed include a fraternal organization (@ProudboysCanada ‏), the entire Trump family, several Mike Pence accounts and an anti-Nenshi Twitter account (@NoMoreNenshi)‏. Heather is also following several other organizations including some in the oil and gas sector, individuals and local companies.

Followers of Heather ring in at 930.

David Lapp

Twitter: @davidlapp4mayor

David Lapp created his Twitter campaign page in August. His first tweet on Sept. 8 was about his excitement to be on Twitter and to be running for mayor. As of Oct. 15, Lapp has accumulated 117 tweets.

The majority of Lapp’s tweets are about events he is at, or will be attending. He often retweets after the event, typically thanking the hosts of the event.

Unlike other candidates, Lapp typically does not engage beyond retweets as seen with user @jtraptow, who asked Lapp to clarify a claim he had made.

Following 218 accounts, Lapp follows mainly local organizations including @Can_Oilsands, and @calgarydropin, as well a journalists and news organizations. Lapp currently has the smallest following of any of the candidates, with 33 followers.

Naheed Nenshi

Twitter: @nenshi

Nenshi has the largest Twitter following of all the candidates with 337,000 followers. Since opening his account in April 2009, Nenshi has been active with 55,900 tweets on his page

Scrolling through Nenshi’s page, it becomes clear that the majority of tweets on his page are retweets from Calgarians and news outlets rather than his own tweets. Many of these retweets are from individuals supporting his campaign platform.

However, his audience engagement does not stop with retweeting. Nenshi often joins conversations on Twitter and shares photos to show he is out chatting with Calgarians about the issues facing the city.

Nenshi is not afraid to crack jokes on his Twitter account,  which helps to further engage his audience and illustrate his personality.

Having had an entire political career as mayor to accumulate Twitter followers,  Nenshi has the largest following and most audience engagement. He routinely brings citizens into the conversations and doesn’t shy away from engaging with critics, occasionally running himself into trouble.

Nenshi follows 1,247 accounts. Many of these accounts belong to Calgarians, reporters and local businesses. He follows Michelle Obama, several YYC transit option accounts, the Calgary Police Digital Communications Officer (@CstSmith), as well as the accounts of several athletes and musicians like James Blunt.

Curtis Olson

Twitter: @curtisinyyc

Curtis Olson joined Twitter in May 2012, and has accumulated 1,279 tweets since then.

Olsen often uses Twitter to engage other political candidates, or media organizations. Several of his tweets have been requests to major Calgary news outlets to cover his campaign strategies.

Many of his tweets are targeted toward voters. Olson shares his main platform points, new interviews and where he can be found in the city if individuals would like to chat. His account does not contain many retweets from others; most of Olson’s Twitter use comes in the form of self-written tweets or replies to others.

Scrolling down his Twitter feed it becomes clear that he has been involved in the community and engaged on social media for a while. Many of his personal tweets reflect an enjoyment of sports.

Often, Olson will tweet photos with a Bitmoji caricature of himself when letting his followers know what he is up to.

Olson has a following of 1,035 and is following 776 accounts including local organizations such as Meals on Wheels, The Calgary Food Bank, Eastside Kia, and more. Other accounts he follows include numerous radio stations and individuals involved in radio production, individual’s accounts, journalists and political hopefuls running in wards around the city.

Bill Smith

Twitter: @TeamBillSmith

After creating his official campaign account in June 2017, Bill Smith has racked up 533 tweets, starting it all off with an infographic of his platform.

Smith’s account takes a focused approach, one of strictly election business. Well-rounded in tweeting habits, Smith’s account is a mix of original tweets, retweets and replies to inquiries. These tweets range from thanking community members for supporting his campaign or volunteering their time, to tweeting about recent polling statistics.

Most unique on Smith’s feed is the question and answer feature he posts from mayoral forums. Unlike most candidates, who retweet what reporters or others present have posted during the forum, Smith curates his own answers.

Currently following 654 accounts, Smith follows many Calgary organizations. He follows multiple community associations, charities, sport organizations, members of the police, reporters, news stations and local individuals. His 2,272 followers are largely individuals, but also includes some Calgary organization like @SportCalgary, a well as reporters and other candidates.

aendruhn@cjournal.ca and rwelsh@cjournal.ca

Editor: Anna Junker | ajunker@cjournal.ca