Politicians on social media: the power and the peril

Social media gaffes cause problems for many politicians in Canada's election campaign.

Faced with flagging popularity, French President Hollande has taken the most obvious strategic decision.

He set up his own Instagram account and posted a photograph of himself at work.  He'd garnered 3000 followers in the first day. 

Not so positive is the news that no fewer than twelve politicians in Canada have made such fools of themselves on social media that they have been disowned by their political parties.  Many more have made their own gaffes over the course of an extended election campaign.  One candidate had been posting 'humourous' videos on YouTube.  Another posted on Facebook that she had never heard of Auschwitz.   The stories have been unearthed by bloggers and journalists.

Social media in the US elections

President Obama's 2008 campaign has been used as an exemplar of successful social media campaigning.  But things have moved on dramatically since then.  Social networks have become ubiquitous and campaigners (if not all politicians!) have become much smarter in how use them.  At the same time, traditional television-based campaigning is on the wane.  Social media, such as Facebook and Snapchat, look set to benefit from an upsurge in political advertising.   Political spending the US is predicted to exceed $1billion in 2016 – up from $150million in 2012.

Deleted tweets

Twitter has produced its own (136-page!) handbook for politicians and their staff offering such advice as tweet about your favourite TV show.  It also gives guidance on how to delete a tweet.  If only life were that simple!  The Internet Archive is preserving over one million tweets deleted by politicians.  The deleted tweets had been collected by Politwoops which has now been blocked by Twitter in over 30 countries

Sources: The Local France; The Province; LA Times; Mark McNally; NPR.