Learning from the social media election

By Vanessa King · November 13, 2015

To see our roundup of party strategy and performance, click here.

The dust has settled after the “social media election.” For the first time, candidate and parties were using the internet to engage with Canadians and influence our choices at the ballot box.

We saw everything from gaffes to cool videos to trolling over the campaign. We’ve assembled a list of key takeaways below.

Do a social cleanup or start fresh.

Stories about candidates’ social media feeds were dime a dozen in this campaign. From peeing in mugs to Auschwitz jokes to 9/11 conspiracy theories, each party roster had its fair share of strange posts and gaffes.

If you’re taking on a new job – especially one in the public eye – consider doing a quick clean up of your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts to ensure nothing unsavoury is lurking in past posts. If there’s just too much to go over, do a serious clean up of your friends and followers and set the account to private. Then, start fresh with a new public account.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

The Liberal and Green parties thought outside of the box in this election, experimenting with new approaches to sharing content on social media.

The Liberal Party released a 360-video of a huge rally in Brampton just ahead of voting day. It made use of YouTube’s new 360 feature but lost out by not uploading the same video to Facebook, which has less 360 content and a similar viewer.

After not being invited to participate at the Munk Debate, the Green Party and its leader Elizabeth May responded to questions through short videos on Twitter. As a result, May was able to explain her platform from afar and avoid being yelled over.

But… know your goals before you jump in.

Being the first adopter sometimes has its drawbacks. Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party saw this firsthand through Instagram advertising.

The Conservative’s decision to run Instagram ads was confusing for a few reasons. First, Harper’s key demographic isn’t on Instagram. Second, the newly launched existence of Instagram ads weren’t – and still aren’t – warmly received by users. And finally, you can’t easily remove comments on Instagram posts.

The result was cringe-worthy with tons of negative comments directed at Harper’s awkward family photos. Once the Conservatives weeded out the bad comments, they received even worse press.  

Social media is here to stay.

The most important takeaway of the 2015 Election is social media is here to stay. Political parties obviously saw the opportunity to connect with Canadians beyond television screens, and your organization should too.

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