How important will social media be at this Election?
I have mixed views on this.
If I were standing again, I would definitely make sure I had a presence on social media. I used Facebook and Twitter at the last Election. I would certainly add Instagram, and possibly Youtube too (on the basis that I would try to do a few audio pieces, if not videos, and would need somewhere to put them).
But I think social media can be misleading, too. The people you engage with on social media tend to be people who are more-than-usually interested in local politics. In absolute terms, the number of people you engage with may not actually be all that high. You can be fooled into thinking social media is representative, when it really is not. (That was what door-to-door canvassing taught me in the last Election. That’s why I’d still encourage some door-to-door work, if you can fit it in.)
Also, social media eats up time that you could be using on other campaign activities, and I’m not convinced the impact is necessarily that great. If you are going to use it, be strict with yourself about how much time you’ll give it, compared to other things.
There is no doubt that this Election campaign is going to happen online, to a much greater extent than previous Elections. But how much of that is going to be social media, as opposed to, say, checking the Election website or media websites for candidates’ answers to key questions? Voters will have a lot more candidates to consider this time than they’ve ever had before, and I think that, as a voter – especially if I’m not the kind of person who uses social media regularly – I might prioritise the places where I can evaluate candidates side-by-side.
I guess what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t be bold enough to run a campaign without a social media element (I use social media out of habit, anyway) – but that’s hedging my bets. Even under island-wide voting, I think it might well be possible to make an impression without social media. Just make sure to be accessible to your voters in plenty of other ways.