COM 0011 – Blog 5 – #elxn42 or How Social Media Can Change the Political World

So, I have a limited presence on social media, by choice (I use them enough on the job and take a step back in my personal life), but I did follow some of the latest elections (#elxn42). That hashtag was everywhere, so you couldn’t ignore it, and given it was the longest campaign in Canada’s history, I figured I had some things to learn!

elxn42I decided to dig up some data with the help of colleagues and the data make you wonder if elections are won with social media nowadays… what do you think?

Disclaimer: this is in no way a political post, just a gathering of social media stats and tactics.

The Huffington Post’s article Canada’s First Digital Election Will Change How Campaigns Court Votes sumed the change between 2011 and 2015 pretty well : ˝In the four years since Canada’s last federal election, digital marketing has gone from the awkward teen at the table, to a full and equal member of the board˝. It’s actually a pretty interesting article as a whole and it was written during the campaign so it’s interesting to see how it really turned out!

There were four times more tweets in 2015 than in 2011. Mentions of #elxn41 during the campaign was about 715,000 and 96,000 on Election Day. Mentions of #elxn42 during the campaign was over 3,400,000 and on Elections day was over 470,000.

The Liberal party was on more social media networks than the Conservative Party and the NDP together. PM Trudeau was on nine different networks, compared to four each for Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair.

Social media tactics included the more obvious and erm… quasi-traditional… ads, as well as Facebook Q&As, but even plaforms were launched live on Facebook.

Then, I saw that some parties engaged into Ask Me Anything events on Reddit… That, I find more risky but also more rewarding, I think. When you can’t hide anywhere and you commit to answering ANY question, I think it can get very tricky. That being said, if you can pull that off, you’re most likely earning votes!  If not, then it can break a candidate’s campaign and election!

I also did some research on  It looks like even the petitions became a social media tool. Party leaders replied to the petitions during the campaign (for example, the Canada Post door to door delivery).

I don’t think the 2015 elections were ruled by social media, but it definitely became a lot more prominent. I think all parties had good return on investment, which makes it worth their while. I think compared to the United States we still have time to grow, but we’re making leaps and bounds. Our mindset is changing as we’re better social media users. Who knows what 2019 elections will be like?

Source of the picture: Social Media Lab, 

3 thoughts on “COM 0011 – Blog 5 – #elxn42 or How Social Media Can Change the Political World

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I had a feeling the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau would be tops in social media because of the demographic they were targeting. Yet, I did not know the Conservative Party would be neck and neck with the NDP. I thought the NDP would be second.

    Nonetheless, I will be interested to see how in Manitoba social media networks will shape the provincial election here next spring. I could see Twitter, and Facebook helping to evolve and make campaign organizers look at social media strategy more. Given the limited dollars, I think the Manitoba Liberals will need to go hard on social media and go after the younger demographic, as currently they are second in the polls, behind the Progressive Conservatives and ahead of the NDP.

  2. Very interesting observations.I have a friend doing a PhD on the impact of social media in the referendums on separation that happened in Quebec and Scotland. It’s certainly clear that social media offers greater reach so more people hear the message, one would hope that the quality of the message would be equally important. What a grand experiment social media is!

  3. I’m fascinated to see where social media takes takes government and politics. One thing that does concern me is its far wider scope of reach than traditional campaigning. We are studying social media strategy and we see how powerful it can be. I’m just afraid that one day they’ll be able to fool all of the people, all of the time.

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