Monday, August 17, 2009

The importance of social media

As someone who was fairly involved with the Liberal social media campaign last election, this news article is particularly interesting:

"Labour MP Kerry McCarthy has been given the job of improving the party's use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook ahead of the next election.

The Bristol East MP, recently named the most influential MP on Twitter, was appointed by Labour's general election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander.
She will train MPs and candidates in the best use of the internet."

Social media is an every increasing part of the election process, and although the nature of Canadian politics and the parliamentary system I believe limit it's ability to be used in the same nature that the Obama campaign did (with 308 different campaigns going on at the same time, but with a heavy focus on the party leaders, I believe social media in Canadian politics works best as an outreach tool to current supporters, rather than a recruitment tool).

The Liberal Party is sadly trailing behind in terms of utilizing social media support. A quick glance at Facebook shows that both Harper and Layton currently have roughly 12,000 more supporters than Ignatieff on Facebook, and Iggy trails Harper and is barely ahead of Layton in terms of followers on Twitter.

I think the idea of having a distinct position dedicated to social media campaigning, particularly having someone as high profile as an MP serve in the position, demonstrates the importance of social media to modern campaigns. I believe the Liberal Party of Canada could learn from this. Also of note in the article is the innovative use of an issue-based Twitter feed, in this case being used to promote/defend the UK's national health service. The Liberals should learn from this example and perhaps have a twitter feed entirely devoted to the economy, for example. With the new Young Liberal website up and running soon, the Young Liberals can and should play a leadership role in helping the party conquer the social media field, and I will be doing my part.


Brian Robson said...

Labour are playing catch-up here. The UK Lib Dems have had an MP - Lynne Featherstone - heading this up for some time. Ditto the UK Tories with Jeremy Hunt. It seems it's pretty difficult for a top-down party like Labour to get a handle on social media. Over here, it's been much better used by the Tories and Lib Dems.

The Liberal Scarf said...

So I have heard. Also good to see that my blog has some cross-Atlantic liberal appeal.