Twitter Election?

A topic that has been on my mind a lot lately is the use of social media as a strategic communication tool for the political parties in the upcoming federal election.

 As I am a huge supporter of using social media as a communications tool for an-y-thing; I think that the federal parties using twitter and facebook are on top of their game. I heard a quote on the news the other day that something like 90% of citizens over the age of 60 vote religiously; while the percentage for 18-24 year olds is around 25%… this is actually quite disgusting (don’t hold me to these percentages – but they aren’t too far off!). Why? Because young Canadian citizens don’t realize  how much their vote actually counts. Call it what you want to call it – irresponsible, too busy, unconcerned, everyone has their reasons to not get informed – but this is a serious issue. How can we make social change if citizens don’t choose to vote? (Leading question I know..)

What does this mean for communications professionals? We have got to tap into the medium that our generation is using to receive their messages – helloooo social media.

I was reading an article in the Vancouver Sun today talking about how this upcoming 41st federal election is being labeled the “Twitter Election.” Politicians (or at least their staff) are tweeting their opinions and status regularly – and news channels are happily picking them up. Twitter has made finding these messages and facts that much easier, not to mention faster, for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that the use of traditional forms of media will decrease in the slightest – but they will become easier to access due to twitter. The reality is, twitter has now become a campaign tool, whether people want to belive it or not – it is changing behaviors and perceptions.

Not to be biased, but as the communications person I am – the medium is the message people. So, will this be the “Twitter Election?” – Probably not. However, if politicians really want to reach that fraction (albeit small due to the fact people have to choose to follow or choose to search for the tweets) of the mostly younger population, twitter is the way to go. I’m glad to see them using twitter to be completely honest and due to the 140-character restriction, news reporter’s jobs have gotten that much easier to sort through all the messages coming at them. Inspired to following along and have no idea where to start?

Welcome to twitter election following 101! The easiest way is to find all the politicians (both local and federal candidates) themselves on twitter and follow what they are saying. You can search the hashtags #elxn41 and #cdnpoli, or, you can simplify it! I found this cool website being run by two guys in Montreal called elect-o-pinion.ca which:

follows Twitter users from Canada blogging about this federal campaign. A mix of posts made by the chiefs, the press or the touring team and the different medias and citizens.

The site is individually following the streams of what’s being said on twitter of all 5 of the running parties. Sweet, huh? 

Alright people this is my call for you to get informed – and I even did the research for you! Now get reading already – and make sure to vote for the party who you believe would do the best running our country on May 2nd, 2011!

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