One of the important risk areas we try and educate clients about is Reputation Risk and the impact Social Media can have on your company's brand and the Personal Brand of the people who work there.
Municipalities across Newfoundland held elections last night. As a voter in St. John's, I followed the election with some interest. Obviously many people didn't since the overall voter turnout was only around 53%. Some of the apathy around Federal and Provincial politics is somewhat understandable since national politics may often seem far removed from the daily life of many individuals.
Municipal politics on the other hand affects us in very direct ways. Is my garbage collected? Is their litter all over my street, is a commercial property being built nextdoor? These are issues which can have an immediate impact on the quality of life of residents.
As I tried to get information about many of the candidates, for me the obvious place to look was on-line. I don't have time to attend debates etc; so I look for my information through Twitter, Facebook and to a lesser extent LinkedIn. With 13 "At-Large" candidates, many of whom I hadn't heard about before, finding information was a challenge. I was shocked at the lack of Social Media presence of some candidates, and I was curious as to whether or not there would be any correlation between the use of Social Media and election success.
Here's what I found looking at the Mayor's Race, and some of the At-Large and Ward Candidates:
Dennis O'Keefe 20,047 No Social Media Presence
Sheilagh O'Leary 14,735 2459 Face Book Like, 2068 Twitter Followers
Tom Hann 17,775 No Social Media Presence
Sandy Hickman 17,580 Personal Facebook Account only
Dave Lane 13,106 1314 Facebook Likes, 967 Twitter Followers
Art Puddester 12,981 536 Facebook Likes
Lorne Loder 12,174 1300 Facebook Likes, 711 Twitter Followers
In the Ward voting, only Bernard Davis had a FB presence with a personal page. In all the other Wards candidates with no Social Media Presence got elected.
Obviously you can't draw direct conclusions on results based on this. Incumbents have a natural name recognition advantage so unless you are perceived as doing a poor job; you have a natural advantage in getting re-elected. All the Social Media in the world won't matter if you aren't up for the job with some ideas and the ability to help constituents. Older candidates have political networks built up that can help get their vote out, that are often hard for young people to compete with.
..And perhaps most importantly, young people aren't engaged. These are the very individuals who may, to a greater extent use social media to get information.
Both Dave Lane and Lorne Loder had strong results. While their campaigns went beyond Social Media, they utilized it to get engaged with voters. One finished ahead of a long-time incumbent and one just behind. As newcomers to the scene, that should make old-style politicians nervous.
In the Mayor's race, Dennis O'Keefe showed that a low-key campaign with the ability to get vote out was more effective than his challenger who used Social Media more effectively and ran a much more high profile campaign.
However, the trend is in, and we'll see more use of Social Media in the future. Here are some tips for future politicians who might decide to use this media, and want to enhance their Personal Brand.
- It's too late to start using it once you are running a campaign. Flooding people's feeds with tweets and posts once you are trying to get elected looks insincere. You need a consistent presence over time, with meaningful posts.
- Related to the above, educate and challenge with good information. You don't need to tell people about every rubber chicken fundraiser you attend. Doing so leads to "un-likes" and "un-follows"
- Decide what your Personal Brand is BEFORE you start and post in such a way that you support it. As long as you are honest and true to what you believe, it's not being manipulative. (This applies to everyone who uses Social Media, at least anyone who cares about their job!)
Social Media is a powerful tool to connect and engage for individuals, businesses and in the political arena. Like anything, using the wrong tool to get the job done can result in a bloody finger. Make sure you know how to use it.