Elections

Candidates shouldn’t ignore social media: consultant

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It’s changing all the time and not always easy to understand, but Maple Ridge candidates not on FaceBook or Twitter are missing a way to connect with voters who could put them in a council seat, Nov. 19.

Having a FaceBook page, tweeting regularly, shows you care about the community and issues, says Brenda Garcia, with Thrive Solutions (@thriveorg).

“Putting yourself in that arena, just gives you the chance to connect with people who are on FaceBook, but are not getting out in the community.”

Even making one post or tweet a day, is enough to show voters that you’re listening or that you want their feedback.

Setting up a FaceBook page allows candidates to advertise their events, get in front of large group of people and gives voters a chance to learn and participate, who wouldn’t necessarily get to a candidates’ meeting.

She pointed out most people have FaceBook accounts for personal use and while they may not be interacting with candidates, they could be reading and following.

Along with pamphlets, ads, signs and events, social media is “another tool in the tool box.

“It’s another medium of getting in front of people.”

Vicki McLeod, with Main Street Communications and The Social Chicks – a social media consulting company – also briefly reviewed the online campaign efforts of Maple Ridge politicians.

She didn’t want to say who was doing well and who needed help, but noted in a FaceBook search only three candidates showed up. That can be changed by ensuring tags or key words are in the title and are identified during a search.

Candidates also should have their own FaceBook pages so voters can check them out without being identified, and says she doesn’t want to “friend” a politician just to find out about them.

Candidates on Twitter should also ensure they use #Maple Ridge or #Pitt Meadows and #ElectMR or #ElectPM to reach like-minded followers.

Only one candidate was using the latter when posting, she noted.

Social media is a way of connecting with voters and developing trust.

“People vote for people they can trust. You have to form a relationship of trust.”

Social media is here to stay, she added.

But it’s one that’s changing all the time. “I don’t think anybody can claim to be an expert because it changes so fast.”

Setting up accounts initially takes time but once candidates start using them it gets easier and quicker.

McLeod said social media community is huge,” and growing every day.”

But it’s important though that candidates be clear about why they’re using social media and should be sincere about building relationships.

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