When twits Tweet and fools Facebook
Monday, September 14, 2015 @ 3:45 AM
By Bill Phillips
Week 4,000 of the federal election campaign and it appeared to be Social Media Slip Up Week.
Yes there were refugees, terrorists, economic debates, promises of spending billions while cutting costs, campaign cut-ups, and a plethora of prognosticators pompously pushing their puffery.
But, to me at least, it seemed like we had an inordinate number of candidates and insiders get in trouble for something they tweeted or posted on Facebook. It’s kind of ironic, really, that we journalists bemoan the lack of access to those in power (it is problem), but we can too often find a juicy story by searching social media sites.
As perilous as they can be for candidates, a social media profile is a necessity these days. They do provide ways for candidates to get their message out … as long as they have lots of social media connections.
So how do our local candidates fare in terms of social media?
Conservative candidate for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies Bob Zimmer easily has the most active social media profile. Of course, he’s the incumbent and has been active on social media, as a politician, for some time.
Zimmer has 1,380 likes on his Facebook page and 2,888 followers on Twitter. He’s also made over 10,000 tweets (I haven’t searched all of them to see if he’s tweeted something stupid, but I’m sure the NDP and Liberals have someone pouring through those … one of the downfalls of a lengthy campaign, there’s time to sift through tens of thousands of tweets).
His Liberal opponent, Matt Shaw, has 31 followers on Twitter and, for some reason, Facebook doesn’t list how many friends he has.
NDP candidate in the northern riding, Kathi Dickie, has 37 followers on Twitter and 21 people like her Facebook page.
Green Party candidate Elizabeth Biggar has 137 people liking her Facebook page, but doesn’t seem to have a Twitter profile.
In the Cariboo-Prince George riding, Conservative candidate Todd Doherty has been campaigning since last fall so, understandably, has a bit of head start. A total of 759 people like his Facebook page and 247 followers on Twitter.
NDP candidate Trent Derrick has 200 followers on Twitter and 325 friends on Facebook.
Liberal candidate Tracy Calogheros has 249 followers on Twitter and, like Shaw, her Facebook page will show me how many mutual friends we have, but not how many friends she has.
Green Party candidate Richard Jaques has 73 Twitter followers and 108 people like his Facebook page.
Independent candidate Sheldon Clare has 1,171 friends on Facebook, but doesn’t seem to be on Twitter, which is a shame because, of all the candidates, Clare is probably the one to have the most interesting tweets.
Bear in mind, we shouldn’t be casting our ballots based on how many friends someone has on Facebook or followers on Twitter, but what candidates post on Twitter and Facebook is something voters should pay attention to. And for the candidates, remember that what you post on social media goes out to the entire world, whether they your friend or follower, or not. Don’t get drunk and post angry tweets from your phone … they will come back to haunt you.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org