Monday, January 10, 2011

Twit, twit, tweet

After several weeks of observation (especially over the holidays), of our three provincial political leaders Twitter accounts I have some remarks.

This is old news by the way, as was reported by CBC late November, Dr Jon Gerrard is the only guy who actually tweets his own tweets.

It shows. Both Greg Selinger's and Hugh McFadyen's accounts spew out messages more like controlled propaganda than a personal and relevant message to the Twitterverse. Much like Judy W's Twitter account last civic election, I think all we can expect from these two guys during the election is slap-happy press releases in 140 characters or less about how great they are and who they're meeting for lunch.

Why Dr Jon Gerrard is the only political leader in this entire province has at least grasped the concept that Twitter is a personal communication tool is quite beyond me. I mean its not like these guys have like staff and stuff that advise them on these kinds of things right...

...Right. Especially nobody to tell them how lame and empty their holiday tweets were.

Happy New Year!! Bonne Année a tous! All the best in the new year!

Hugh McFadyen
Wishing all #Manitobans a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

You're really making headway there with such touching messages.

Merry Christmas! Naomi and I are blessed to have Pauline and Roger and our two grandchildren back from Laos and with us today for Christmas

Sounds like a wonderful time of the year! I don't know Gerrard's family and neither do most people but this message says far, far more than the dry-as-winter staples from McFadyen and Selinger. As if they rolled their eyes and said " we haaaave to update our Twitter thingy?"

Well, no you don't. But that's your choice to ignore this connection and communication tool. I'd probably make a crack here about how this is a couple of old guys just ignoring technology but I really can't, because I'm pretty sure Gerrard has the seniority.

Sure, maybe the holidays aren't the best indicator.

Dr Jon Gerrard
Last night - Brief Encounter at MTC - a neat mixture of theatre, film and Noel Coward songs.

Wow hey, not only was Gerrard out on the town just the other night, he wasn't out on the town electioneering or posing for some picture. He was taking in the arts. He even added a personal commentary note about the play/production. This lets me know the message is real and authentic.

In the same time frame, "McFadyen" tweeted another dry message about Ukrainian Christmas, and "Selinger" did the same...except he one-upped his opposition by throwing in some Ukrainian (as if the message wasn't sterile enough in English).

And, finally, even the pictures for the twitter profiles are telling. "Selinger" and "McFadyen" are both predictably professional press photos with their suits and ties and fake smiles cropped just right. Gerrard's a Cessna or helicopter or something, and may have even been taken by somebody's iPhone.

If you're looking for this election to take to Twitter and sweep the internet, you'll have to wait at least another four years. Otherwise look forward to glaze over just about everyone's Twitter feeds, save Dr Jon Gerrard.


DriveGoddess said...

Nice to Twitter, I generally ignore it as it is just too compressed and sometimes painful to read from a clarity perspective but that being said it is a legitimate artform to be able to say something genuine in 140 characters or less....

Matt said...

I don't think Twitter is the best option for these people to be communicating with voters or people interested in the election. Anyone know the percentage of Manitobans that actively use Twitter? I read a recent article that said 8% of the US population uses Twitter; If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say no more than 3-5% of Manitobans use Twitter regularly (and that's probably a generous number). Out of the 300+ people I have as 'friends' on Facebook, I think two of them use Twitter, and one of them is you. I don't know a single person in my entire department here at the university that uses Twitter, either.

Do these guys have Facebook pages? I'd be more concerned about not using a Facebook page to their full advantage, rather than improperly using a Twitter account.

Graham said...


This is going to be an unerlying an underutilized tool until more politicians realize they can win an election by using it.

It has nothing to do with percentage of population that uses the service.

Based on your comment I'd have to say you are not aware of the sweeping and unpredicted win of the current Calgary Mayor which happened just before the Winnipeg civic election. According to his Wikipedia, in September he polled just 8%. A month later he secured over 40% of the vote.

Naheed Nenshi has single handedly set the bar for the possibilities to engage voters through the internet.

John Dobbin said...

Good post.

I agree that some leaders should take a little bit of time to personally engage in formats that reach out to online Manitobans.

Matt said...

How can you say it has nothing to do with the percentage of the population that uses the service? If you were running for mayor, would you rather use a means of communication that allowed you to talk to 3% of the population, or 50%?

I'm not saying social networking isn't a helpful medium for politicians (and in this day and age, it's as important as ever), but you need to understand the limitations of that social networking. All of the reports regarding Mr. Nenshi's mayoral win merely state that his social media campaign helped him, but as far as i know there was no indication of how much of that help was from Twitter (and if this information is available, feel free to correct me). A quick glance at his Facebook page and Twitter account show almost double the followers on the former compared to the latter; a number that was most likely even more significant while his campaign was still running. You also have to take consideration to the fact that Calgary is a much more industrious and tech savvy city than Winnipeg, and therefore there is probably a larger percentage of the population actively using Twitter. What works in one city isn't necessarily going to work in the other.

So overall, I'm just trying to figure out why you're placing so much weight on Twitter. You wrote an entire post discussing the inadequacies of these peoples Twitter campaigns, while not mentioning their Facebook presence even once, even though Facebook is the much more popular alternative, and the one more likely to capture the attention of the Winnipeg populace.

Graham said...

It's not that I'm putting weight on Twitter, I've only written a blog post about it.

I didn't mention Facebook because this isn't about Facebook, it's about Twitter.

Twitter can be used and will be used to win elections or to gather momentum and leverage as per the Nenshi case.

Numbers are nice but here, it's us kids on the Twitter and the Facebook isn't it? Isn't it us young kids who don't vote? Isn't it us young kids who are likely to not have interest in an election?

They're boring and all the guys look and sound the same. Nenshi stood out because he made himself available to everybody at all times. You could ask him a question. He'd answer back.

That's a normal person.

If you watch the CBC video you will catch the Premier of Manitoba say that he doesn't have time for Twitter. Huh, well, Nenshi did and does. We will see where this goes in terms of Nenshi's popularity.

Twitter is a different beast and doesn't follow the usual written rules of percentages or anything. Twitter is writing it's own rules. Artist Amanda Palmer uses twitter to make a comfortable living as a musician, while most musicians whine and cry about how they can't get paid.

The major record label would say, well, only X amount of people use Twitter so it is not feasible.

...And there are so many case study examples of how different peopple in different areas all over the place have utilized Twitter to their advantage and literally change their lives or careers. It's all in what you make it.

I'll let you do the post on Facebook.

Matt said...

Nah, that's your job; you're the blog writer. I'm just the reader/commenter/disagree-er :)

If you want a guest post on something paleontology-related though, feel free to give me a shout.