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Metro column: Social media are game changers

By DJ Kelly February 18, 2011

There’s a movement afoot and it is going to affect the makeup of the Alberta legislature moving forward. Each of the three provincial parties without a leader now officially has someone running for the position.

That in and of itself isn’t news, but what is of note is how they have each announced and how they’ve behaved in the hours immediately after that announcement. And it’s that “how” that is beginning to tell the story of what kind of a general election we are going to see once the writ is dropped.

Instead of the old-school media release and speech attended only by close supporters, each candidate has opened up the campaign to the public from the get go.

For both Alison Redford and Doug Horner — Progressive Conservative hopefuls — the first act on their first day as a candidate was to create a Twitter account. Redford used it right away and made her big announcement on Twitter.

Social media are changing the face of how politics is done.

Alberta Party hopeful Glenn Taylor and PC MLA Doug Griffiths took it one step further and announced their intentions using a live video stream, so anyone in the province who wanted to see their speeches could do so. Those videos are available online, where visitors to their websites are able to share them with friends on Facebook or Twitter at the push of a button.

Griffiths, a social media veteran by any standard, started his second day as a candidate by sitting down for breakfast with political bloggers to tell his story to them directly. Redford spent the afternoon following her announcement doing sit-down interviews with Edmonton media outlets. One after the other, she told her story one-on-one.

These candidates know the world of politics is evolving and see the role social media can play as part of that evolution. As Griffiths explained during his blogger breakfast, the candidate who engages directly with as many Albertans as possible will have the greatest chance of winning the leadership contest — something he sees the social media tool very effective in achieving.

If this is where these candidates are starting, it will be interesting to see how their use of social media has developed by the time election day arrives.

•••

Speaking of social media, that’s where you’ll have to find me moving forward. Today represents my last Metro column. I first started writing it to increase the public’s knowledge of issues during the Calgary municipal election, but I quit my day job to do that. I’ve recently accepted a position with the City of Calgary and so it would be inappropriate for me to continue writing here every week.

I thank my editor Darren Krause for the opportunity to share my opinions over these past few months, and I know Metro will continue its dedication to local news long after my departure.

See you online!

Calgary original: http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/777370–social-media-are-game-changers
Edmonton original: http://www.metronews.ca/edmonton/local/article/777370–social-media-are-game-changers