Follow-up to my 2010 New Brunswick provincial election predictions re: social media

Before the September 27, 2010, New Brunswick provincial election, I published a number of predictions that I will review here. In fairness to the candidates and others involved, I can’t name any names because with so many updates being posted around the clock, it would be unfair to point out just a few people because many others may have done the same thing. I’ll just speak generally to the subject matter, then.

1) “Inexperienced candidates or their workers will post messages to their public Facebook walls or Twitter feeds that were meant to be private messages.” I did personally see this happen between a couple of political people. They eventually removed the errors after someone likely told them about their error.

2) “At least one candidate will resign because of something they posted.” Nope.

3) “Several apologies will be posted throughout the campaign for things written that should never have been written.” I did personally see an apology posted from a Fredericton-area candidate who jumped to a conclusion and assumed that a candidate from another party was a former federal member of Parliament. In fact, they share the same name, but it was not the same person.

4) “Social media-savvy journalists will have a field day with candidates’ mistakes online.” Well, posts from candidates certainly did garner much attention from reporters and they took them to task, asking them to back up their claims. Sometimes the reporters received answers. Sometimes they didn’t.

5) “Some candidates will make the mistake of assuming social media has replaced door-to-door campaigning.” One Moncton candidate spent so much time on Twitter that I can’t imagine they found the time to knock on too many doors. With that said, candidates were proud to report the number of doors they visited on Twitter and Facebook, so it didn’t seem like too many candidates made the (wrong) assumption that social media was a substitute for good ol’ door knockin’.

6) “If you’re a candidate, make sure you respond to people asking questions in social media forums.” This was done to a certain extent. Some were better at it than others. It’s important that all institutional social media users scan their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds for legitimate questions from followers. It’s pretty obvious who the “anti” people, activists and opponents are. These are people who use the same arguments using different language and are obviously in cahoots. Don’t waste your time getting into unwinnable arguments with people who will never be moved to agree with you. It’s a waste of your time and futile.

7) “Remember that much of what you do and say in social media is public.” Again, this comes with experience. The more inexperienced social media users tend to say anything publicly and need to get burned before they become more careful. Posting something on your Facebook wall or on Twitter is public. If you want to communicate with someone somewhat privately, do so via direct message on Twitter or private message on Facebook. If you really don’t want it posted publicly, call them and tell them what you think verbally. Much safer… although I’m not sure Mel Gibson would agree.

8 ) “While you’ll probably have a younger crowd working your social media feeds, they also (usually) have less experience when responding to online arguments and controversial subjects.” The younger political crowd was quite engaged, actually, and I didn’t see much of a difference in the quality of their posts.

9) “Learn how to spell. Perfection isn’t required, but there are limits.” I saw quite a few candidates make embarrassing spelling mistakes online. Many of these mistakes were pointed out by opponents as reasons why a certain politician could not hold office. After all, if you can’t even spell, why should you make the big bucks paid to a provincial MLA and, possibly, cabinet minister? One update I saw had a politician mentioning that a major local event was a real “threat” for their community when, in fact, they meant to write “treat”. The “h” in that word completely changes the meaning, so be careful!

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