Maybe it was the lack of hot-topic issues, or maybe it was the lack of interest on the part of the Canadian people to interact online with the candidates, but for whatever reason social media simply did not play as a big a role in the recent elections there as some had hoped it would. Spurred by the increase in social media as a tool during the election of current U.S. President Barack Obama, some Canadians believed social media would play a pivotal role in elections there. the fact that it caused hardly a ripple does not mean social media is a non-starter in the Great White North, it simply means the topics did not interest them enough to get involved. (Just my opinion.)
Why do you think social media failed to boost the candidates in Canada the way it did in the United States?
Canada’s first social media federal election is over. While all the major parties opened their eyes and arms to social media, it’s not quite the inspiring story that the Obama victory was.
Social media-wise, the campaign wasn’t about engagement so much as alienation. A university student was denied access to a rally for Conservative leader Stephen Harper after a campaign aide spotted photos of her with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on her Facebook page. A Green party candidate in British Columbia resigned over a favourite quote on his Facebook page raised a furor. Candidates flocked to Twitter, then didn’t update much. At least campaign trail photos and video made it to Facebook and Web pages. (Interestingly, the photo section of the Conservative party Web site exclusively features pictures of Harper on the campaign trail; the Liberal Web presence is similarly dominated by Ignatieff, though it’s not as obvious because the material is mixed in with video clips and ads.)
In fact, it was everyone but the politicians who managed to leverage social media successfully during the campaign.
Members of the press who followed the campaign were all over Twitter, offering real-time, if abbreviated, coverage. It was a balance between the unmediated (by virtue of its immediacy) and the mediated (as in, mediated by years of experience and journalistic standards), and of straight fact, opinion, debate, humour and calling out.
Issues of freedom of expression were front and centre, too, thanks to Elections Canada’s warning to not tweet election results from the east before the close of polls in the west. Some vowed they would tweet regardless, and some vowed they’d tweet inaccurate results.
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