As a followup to the blog post on the Social Media and Politics Panel, the following are some statistics and notes on candidates in the Victoria and Saanich municipal elections and their use of social media in the current campaign.
I would like to thank in advance Bernard von Schulmann (Victoria Vision) and Dan Pollock (YYJ Candidates Twitter List), for collating website links (Bernard) and Twitter accounts (Dan) for declared candidates. Facebook profiles/pages are from my research
The following are Mayor and Council candidates for the City of Victoria (candidate list) and District of Saanich (candidate list) – note: Saanich District website has a straight html, easily accessible list with candidate websites included, City of Victoria has a PDF with no information other than emails and phone numbers.
Included below are candidate websites, Twitter and Facebook profile links, plus relevant statistics (such as number of Twitter/Facebook friends and posts). If there are no links, then that candidate does not have a particular online/social media profile. The information is current as of November 6th, 2011 – election day is November 19th. If I have missed any candidates stand alone website, Facebook or Twitter profile my apologies in advance, and please do post a comment to let everyone know.
Mayoral Candidates (4)
Dean Fortin (incumbent): Website : Facebook (2249 friends) : Twitter (1503 followers, 277 updates)
Steve Filipovic : Website : Facebook (309 friends) : Twitter (90 followers, 336 updates)
Paul Brown (Open Victoria): Website : Facebook (122 friends) : Twitter (67 followers, 113 updates)
David Shebib: Twitter (13 followers, 124 updates) : Facebook (230 friends)
Council Candidates (8 incumbents, 12 challengers)
Marianne Alto (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (388 friends) : Twitter (416 followers, 116 updates)
Phillippe Lucas (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (115 friends) : Twitter (385 followers, 314 updates)
John Luton (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (518 friends)
Geoff Young (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (friends info blocked)
Charlayne Thornton-Joe (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (546 friends) : Twitter (34 followers, 2 updates)
Pam Madoff (incumbent) : Website (note- webpage attached to Mayor Dean Fortin’s site)
Chris Coleman (incumbent) : Website
Lynn Hunter (incumbent) : Facebook (689 Friends)
Aaron Hall (Open Victoria) : Website : Facebook (298 friends) : Twitter (1018 followers, 6205 updates)
Lisa Helps: Website : Facebook (192 friends) : Twitter (387 followers, 590 updates)
Shellie Gudgeon: Website : Facebook (45 friends) : Twitter (139 followers, 144 updates)
Linda McGrew (Open Victoria) : Website : Facebook (21 friends) : Twitter (59 followers, 112 updates)
Ben Isitt : Website : Facebook (friends info blocked) : Twitter (197 followers, 36 updates)
Suhki Lalli (Open Victoria): Website : Facebook (3 friends) : Twitter (1 follower, 3 updates)
Rose Henry: Website : Facebook (785 friends)
John Valentine: Website : Facebook (32 friends)
Robin Kimpton: Website : Facebook (11 friends)
Saul Anderson: Website
Mayoral Candidates (3)
Frank Leonard (incumbent): Website : Facebook (2954 friends) : Twitter (1017 followers, 972 updates)
David Cubberly: Website : Facebook (2411 friends): Twitter (141 followers, 132 updates)
David Shebib: Twitter (13 followers, 124 updates) : Facebook (230 friends)
Council Candidates (7 incumbents, 5 challengers)
Judy Brownoff (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (1230 friends) : Twitter (385 followers, 314 updates)
Dean Murdock (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (892 friends) : Twitter (332 followers, 343 updates)
Vicki Sanders (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (92 friends) : Twitter (71 followers, 134 updates)
Paul Gerrard (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (1151)
Susan Brice (incumbent) : Website : Facebook (396 friends)
Vic Derman (incumbent) : Website
Leif Wergeland (incumbent) : Website :
Jesse McClinton: Website : Facebook (1408 friends) : Twitter (500 followers, 1117 updates)
Rob Wickson : Website : Facebook (55 friends) : Twitter (216 followers, 246 updates)
Harald Wolf: Website : Facebook (34 friends)
Nichola Wade: Website
A few points to begin: there are plenty of examples in the above list where candidate websites did not link to their Facebook or Twitter profiles, and vis-versa where their social media profiles did not reference their websites. Online media is essentially integrated. By making it difficult to research activity, links, profiles: candidates are losing audiences. Think about that from the point of view of a journalist profiling local candidates, trying to search correct information, and links, on a deadline – as it was difficult for me to collate the above information (and media are in the same boat), the public and voters are even more frustrated. Candidates often opine that media do not pay attention – I’ve heard many times: “It was posted on the campaign Facebook page, website or Twitter – but media said they did not get it!”, yet if there are no interconnected links, or media have not been advised of a campaign social media profile, there is no right to complain.
Why is Social Media Important? (in Victoria/Saanich?)
Treading very carefully here: At the root of politics IS communication. Campaigns rely on ‘message received, then GOTV’ (get out the vote) – yet just about all Victoria/Saanich hopefuls seem to view social media as peripheral to their strategy. Incumbents in local campaigns especially, do have the advantage of accessing previous volunteers, fund raising, phone/email lists, and public profiles while challengers must create campaigns from scratch.
Engaging websites, Facebook pages/profiles and Twitter accounts are essential in the contemporary media environment, yet many candidates seem unaware of the advantages of open source, free online advice – or placing someone at the helm of campaign communications who has experience. In Greater Victoria especially, few recognize that with ViaTech, Social Media Camp, Word Camp, and a lively education/business community, there is accessible voter influence through an engaged online community. Along side is a commitment from the City of Victoria to Open Data…. (look at that search link – does a CoV published page rank in the top 10?) Yet few incumbents seeking re-election, or new candidates hoping to replace, actually understand the changing demands in communication. It maybe possible to achieve election success without use of a website or social media, but an argument can be made that politicians who do not utilize online platforms will be ineffective shepherds of policy within the ever increasing demand for continual public engagement.
What the Numbers Say
Some candidates, and incumbents, have only recently created social media accounts – mainly for the 2011 campaign, others have been on Twitter and Facebook for a while. That should be taken into account when judging effective online engagement. As an example, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin’s Twitter account was created in June 2009, yet he has only posted 277 updates. In contrast, Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard created his Twitter profile in November, 2010 with over 970 posts. Candidates such as Aaron Hall have not created separate campaign profiles, simply using their existing personal or business Twitter accounts, which is why their numbers of followers and posts are far higher than others. That might be an advantage as they are able to tap into an already engaged personal community.
Of course, the number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends is only one indication of online engagement. The number of posts, and the content, is a more compelling indicator – along with replies and content that creates conversations. Using the example of Victoria and Saanich incumbent Mayors, Frank Leonard is more effective at engagement by not only posting more content, but also inviting responses and replies.
During the BC Liberal Party and Alberta Conservative Party leadership races there was a ‘joke’ prediction by political pundits, including myself, that the candidate with the most ‘social media friends’ would be the winner. That actually proved to be the case – both Christy Clark and Alison Redford had more Facebook and Twitter followers than their opponents. Making that leap to judge the likelihood of success in the local elections might be more problematic, however I would argue that candidates with a high number of social media followers and posts demonstrate an understanding of digital media. That capacity to effectively engage online often translates well in other situations such as all-candidates meetings and campaigning at the door.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!