Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Social Media, Citizen Engagement and Municipal Politics

This is the title of a panel being organized by the Victoria Social Media Club for Monday October 17th.

Location:   David Strong building C126
Time: 6:45 pm

I will be one of the people on the panel from my role in blogging about local politics in these parts and my role with the Paul Brown and Open Victoria campaigns.

What will I be saying?  Here are some first thoughts from myself.

In 2011 the expectation is that candidates will have websites, Facebook accounts, Twitter, YouTube and more, but does it really work well?

I like social media for certain purposes in campaigning, but I see the limitations of it.   In the case of the City of Victoria we are trying to reach 65,000 potential voters, I do not think that with a typical social media campaign you will reach more than 1000.  Facebook, Twitter and all the rest are small audiences that can feel like a lot of activity taking place and people hearing the message, but in the end your reach is not that dramatic.

Facebook is making it harder and harder to use it for any sort of political campaigning or organizing.   Twitter is still very much a minority of the public and even then it is hard to keep up with the conversation.

In 2009 I saw how well the Yes to BC STV campaign did online.  We vastly out preformed the No side but in the end I think we are only reaching tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands we needed.

There is a role for social media, but it should never be a substitute for meeting people in person.
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