Calgary Election an Excercise in Social Media: Lessons Learned

Why Nenshi Won and How an MLA will Lose his Job

I tweeted this at the beginning of August about Naheed Nenshi’s mayoral campaign that was just getting off the ground:

@nenshi will win the mayorship if he mobilizes the under 30 vote a la Obama. #yyc #calgary

Naheed won and he did it by doing what I said and MORE. He employed tactics Obama used which were quite simply competent communication. Now, Naheed didn’t win solely based on his fantastic using social media campaign (rest assured every candidate in four years will have EXTENSIVE social media campaigns, no more surprises), but social media DID enable him to get his message across to the masses (from 3% to 40% support).

But there are three stories from this election that solidify social media as crucial player in the world of marketing.

1) Nenshi won. He won using social media early, and hard. However, he coupled that attacked with traditional media as well. He employed both forms and won votes from both demographics. It wasn’t only young people voting Nenshi, although he did capture a number of new voters through his social media campaigns, but voting vets who were looking for substance and hope.

Everyone who desired to find his information, regardless of how they were looking for their info, were going to find it. one way or another ranging from a radio ad, newspaper, flyer, youtube, or facebook post.

Higgins and McIver couldn’t hold a candle to the wealth of info available in social media avenues. (Check out Marc Binkley’s amalgamation of social media data from the top 3 candidates.)

2) Traditional media coverage (TV) was terrible. Coverage was limited for an event that saw RECORD turn out. A quarter of a million people voted but none of the leading media outlets wanted to bump their American TV shows for the election. Shaw TV did a bang up job as the only TV coverage until 11.

However, if you wanted updated info look no further than Twitter and the City of Calgary website to get your real time info on the election. No need to wait for the talking head to tell you results, you got them on your phone instantly. I wasn’t in the dark because i was participating online and for that I feel more connected to the buzz of election night and even to this city.

Traditional media dropped the ball but social media picked up the ball and ran ran ran with it.

3) After Nenshi won an MLA named Kyle Fawcett posted two tweets slamming Nenshi’s win and Calgarians who voted for him.

Here is a negative example of social media. If you simply do not comprehend the nature of social media you shouldn’t use it. Mr. Fawcett did not understand the implications of his Tweets, the fact they were wide open and public, and that within seconds of posting his comments would go viral, for the worse.

Fawcett is entitled to his opinion and Twitter is the vehicle to start promoting your brand (even if it’s your name). But you have to mindful of brand reputation management. If you don’t you’ll end up losing your political career. Twitter-ville may be only 140 characters, but you can sink your ambitions with less. Also, people don’t have a short term memory.

In this case Fawcett shouldn’t have said anything at all, but alas, it’s forever engrained in the land of social media, and not 24 hours later the Premier, the news outlets, everyone was talking about it and responding.

Do you believe me now? Social media is here to stay, and if you aren’t on board connecting with your market then you’re already WAY behind.

Are you there? When people look for you, are you there? If you are then you may one day wind up mayor for a city of a million plus. Or unemployed….