Social Media and BC Politics

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The conclusions to the BC Liberal Party and BC NDP leadership races are nearing. After months of campaigning, how do each of the candidates rank on social media. Will the winners be the one with the most Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter followers? Here are the latest numbers on each candidate.

Studies of the 2010 US mid-term elections indicated a 75% relationship between Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘followers’ to candidate wins. (Minnesota Daily, U. Minnesota via UWIRE). While the Obama campaign is noted for the use of social media, platforms were (and still are) embryonic. In the 2+ years since the US Presidential election, Twitter has gained prominence, new location services like FourSquare are gaining users, and all social media platforms have modified to enhance user experience.

To a large extent mainstream media has also defaulted to social media. Newspaper articles and TV spots rarely gain wide traction unless backed by social media links, with journalists often ‘breaking’ news via twitter, well before an edited piece is published. With that in mind, how political campaigns place social media into communication plans is vital – and the utilization maybe an indicator of success. So with British Columbia, Canada campaigns underway, and nearing conclusion for  leadership of the two main parties – the BC Liberal Party, who currently hold office and will essentially elect a new premier on the 26th of February: and the BC New Democratic Party, the opposition, who will elect a new leader on April 17th – how do the candidates for each race rank on Facebook and Twitter?

BC Liberals Candidate Facebook Twitter
Christy Clark BC Liberal Candidate Christy Clark Facebook Page

1943 Likes

Twitter

2891 Followers

George Abbot BC Liberal Candidate George Abbott Facebook Page

583 Likes

Twitter

1394 Followers

Mike de Jong BC Liberal Candidate Mike De Jong Facebook Page

369 Likes

Twitter

1062

Kevin Falcon BC Liberal Candidate Kevin Falcon Facebook Page

739 Likes

Twitter (Personal) 2359

Team Kevin Falcon 723

Note: in the case of both the BC Liberal and NDP candidates, only Kevin Falcon (BC Liberal) has made a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) distinction between his personal Twitter account, and the ‘Team’. A technical issue, but one I feel is important. Most candidates have both personal and campaign Facebook and Twitter profiles – the listings are for their campaigns.

BC NDP Candidate Facebook Twitter
Mke Farnworth BC NDP Candidate Mike Farnworth
Facebook Page

392 Likes

Twitter

522 Followers

John Horgan BC NDP Candidate John Horgan
Facebook Page

621 Likes

Twitter

507 Followers

adrian Dix BC NDP Candidate Adrian Dix
Facebook Page

172 Likes

Twitter

322 Followers

Nicholas Simons BC NDP Candidate Nicholas Simons
Facebook Page

521 Likes

Twitter

236 Followers

Dana Larsen BC NDP Candidate Dana Larsen
Facebook Page

1645 Likes

Twitter

200 Followers

So what do these numbers mean?

Frankly pathetic – but that is simply the opinion of a communications person. The BC Liberal Party has added 20 000 to the party base since the leadership campaign began (total around 70 000), with the BC NDP harking similar numbers (although no attribution). Considering the leadership of either party is a province wide campaign, involving highly social media active urban and rural regions, the fact that no leadership candidate can achieve over 3000 active followers on any social media platform is telling. With tens of thousands interested in the leadership question, and social media gaining traction as a news authority – why are these campaign numbers so low? A question for academics… also, why Twitter follower numbers tend to be higher than Facebook (other than Dana Larsen, who has used Facebook extensively as a messaging platform)

For any political social media account, there will be cross over of links – those who ‘friend’ many candidates simply to keep informed, the media, and interested researchers who cannot, or will not vote.

Out of all the social media numbers, the obvious winner in the BC Liberal Party race is Christy Clark. She has integrated social media as a priority into the campaign and it shows in the relative Facebook and Twitter followers. As a digression – her campaign was the only one out of either the BC Liberals or BC NDP to respond personally when I followed their accounts. For the BC NDP – Dana Larsen, although that seems highly unlikely when it comes to the actual internal party vote.

To emphasize – the links and numbers reflect leadership bid campaign accounts on social media, and not previously held (and/or currently active) personal, business, MLA or incumbent. Those may play as well.

We shall see in the near future who wins each race. How social media contributes to campaigns is the question.

Have a comment or thought?

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Discussion5 Comments

  • SpandexPelican Feb 24, 2011 

    Interesting how social media is gaining so much ground. I find it fascinating that we can contact candidates like these (almost) directly!
    My fave: http://www.horganforbc.ca

    Reply
  • Mat Wright Feb 23, 2011 

    and an update, as Adrian Dix (NDP Candidate) seems to be using his personal Facebook profile more than the campaign page – that is at 1718

    Reply
  • Mat Wright Feb 23, 2011 

    The numbers for each candidate account for Facebook and Twitter are accurate as of 11pm Feb 23rd 2010.

    Reply

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