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Lessons From The Party Leaders' Social Media Campaigns

Food for thought: according to the Toronto Star, the NDP has more Facebook supporters, Twitter followers and YouTube videos than its rivals, and yet it lags behind both in the Polls. It’s a sobering  note on the role of social media in public relations campaigns.

As pointed out a few weeks back, social media activism doesn’t amount to much if your supporters aren’t engaged. Your supporters might be in the six figures, but if the commitment of 90% of them ended after clicking “join this group”, then you need to do more to actually get them involved.

So what are Canada’s political parties doing to engage their followers?

A look at Twitter makes it no surprise.

Stephane Dion’s team doesn’t seem to quite get Twitter. Updates seem focused on cramming in as much info about Dion’s day as the 140 characters will allow. Worse, they’re mostly about what the Liberal leader has already DONE, not what he’s going to do. How does Dion expect to engage his 344 followers after the fact?

Sure, it provides a warm and fuzzy view of the would-be Prime Minister, but it doesn’t spur supporters to action. Dion is simply preaching to the choir.

Jack Layton’s team updates followers on where he’s going, not where he’s been, so they’re effective that way. Most of the posts, though, urge people to get involved at The Orange Room-the NDP’s digital content site with videos, photos and blog.

It’s actually a great site, but by treating Twitter as a means to an end, rather than the end itself, it doesn’t give followers a reason to jump to action-no matter how many of them (844) there are.

Stephen Harper’s team understands how to use Twitter. They know how to make the most of 140 characters-nearly every update includes a link. They’re not just the latest announcements from the Conservatives, either-some have links to the Conservatives’ Flickr page or non-sequiturs that mention Harper’s favourite songs. You can also message or Nudge the PM, something neither Dion or Layton have included.

It engages Harper’s 744 followers and gives calls to action. Is it any coincidence the Tories are leading in the polls?

It’s quality over quantity and it looks like it translates into votes. Anyone launching a PR campaign should take notice.