Friday, October 31, 2008

More on Facebook

This is from Tri-City News, Coquitlam and area. Interesting take on the issue. From what I have seen, the younger the candidates, the more facebook is a factor. My nieces both have around 300 facebook friends, but one of my boomer aged friends that is a great social networker in real life only has 125 friends.

Will facebook make it easier for candidates to get people out to vote? Will more younger people vote in the election because of it? I do not know.

Richard Stewart, who is mentioned in this article, has a facebook group and I am member. He would make a great mayor of Coquitlam so please support him.

Facebook plays role in civic elections

When Mike Bowen sat down with his election team before launching his Port Coquitlam mayoral campaign, the group discussed the best ways to promote the candidate and bolster his platform.

Newspaper ads, lawn signs and websites were all mentioned but when someone suggested Bowen set up a Facebook account, most of his advisors scoffed at the idea.

“Everybody to a person said, ‘Don’t bother with that, it is kids’ stuff,’” Coun. Bowen said. “But then I ran it by my daughter and she said, ‘Are you kidding?’”

Soon after that conversation, Bowen joined the social networking site, joining its approximately 132 million other users around the world. He is still familiarizing himself with the concept of online social networking and his 28-year-old daughter is helping him manage his profile.

Like most people who join Facebook, Bowen has been reunited with some old friends he has not seen in many years. But the site has also proven to be a handy campaign tool in his quest to become mayor of Port Coquitlam.

He said the site gets a range of different age groups but the one demographic he hopes it will drive to the polls is young people.

“There are a lot of younger people that may not read the local paper... but they are on their computers,” he said.

Facebook was founded in 2004 and has attracted millions of members. It allows people to join networks and communicate with one another online.

While barely a factor in the last civic campaign, Facebook has since become a necessity for politicians, with many candidates in the recent federal election taking advantage of the site.

Bowen is not the only local candidate who has seen the value of Facebook for the upcoming campaign.

Coquitlam councillor and mayoral candidate Richard Stewart became a member before he announced his run.

As School District 43 DPAC president, Stewart said he worked with parents on internet-related issues, and he and several other DPAC members joined Facebook in order to try and demystify the communication tools their children were using.

Stewart’s first online friend was his daughter. Since then, he has connected with many people across the region and has launched a Facebook group to promote his mayoral campaign.

He to believes social networking websites could be a key to tapping into younger demographics who don’t usually turn out to the polls.

“We need to meet them where they are,” Stewart said. “If they are at the coffee shop, then you go to the coffee shop. If they are on Facebook, then let’s meet them on Facebook.”

Another Port Coquitlam mayoral candidate, Coun. Greg Moore, is already experienced using social networking sites. He set up a Facebook group called MyPortCoquitlam before announcing his run for mayor and routinely updates his profile.

While Moore agrees with Stewart and Bowen that the site should attract younger voters, he points out that users of the site have grown to include a diverse cross-section of society. He said the largest demographic that visits his Greg Moore for Mayor site is men and women between 35 and 45.

Moore said he started using Facebook because it allows him to have a conversation with voters about issues that concern them.

“It is almost like going door-to-door or having a community meeting but you are doing it online,” he said. “It gives people a chance to react and discuss.”

Not everyone is sold on the idea of using social networking sites in their campaigns.

Coquitlam Mayor Maxine Wilson said she has not joined Facebook, fearing it could allow people to spread false information about her online.

“It can lead to information that isn’t always correct or it could appear that people have friends that they didn’t realize they would be associated with,” she said. “We just haven’t moved in that direction.”

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