Election 2011: Canada’s first social media election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s fifth year in office coincides with the
fifth anniversary of Twitter. The social media platform adds a “new
intensity to this election,” Bill Curry writes for The Globe and Mail. Harper also has more Facebook fans than any other candidate.

By Sunday afternoon, more than 14,000 election or Canadian politics-related tweets had been published, compared to less than 2,000 the weekend before, Curry reports, leading him to dub the May 2th federal election as “Canada’s first social media election.”

This follows Barak Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, where social media was used to raise money, volunteers and make the candidate “more relatable”, Curry writes, noting that the site All Facebook found that in the majority of House of Representative and Senate races, the candidate with the most Facebook fans was the victor.

CTV.ca reports that the Liberal Party of Canada’s Facebook page has more ‘likes’ (11,000) then the other parties (Tories follow close behind at 9,770). On Twitter, Harper leads the pack with over 108,000 followers. Liberal leader Micheal Ignatieff plans to keep a blog, but has been chastised for his dry, press release-like tweets.

“For parties with the proper tracking software, what potential voters say on social media can provide real-time feedback on the campaign to find out what’s working and what isn’t,” Curry writes.

In Canada, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi uses social media for connecting with his constituents: he tries to reply to each tweet directed toward him. Former industry minister Tony Clement’s Twitter feed is considered a must-read by political journalists.