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You Can’t Forget the Social in Social Media

One of the many lessons we’ve learned over the past year and a half is just how reliant we are on the digital world. When COVID-19 kept us at home, the only way we could communicate with one another was through calls, emails, and social media – pushing us further into the digital norm.

Sep. 10, 2021

One of the many lessons we’ve learned over the past year and a half is just how reliant we are on the digital world. When COVID-19 kept us at home, the only way we could communicate with one another was through calls, emails, and social media – pushing us further into the digital norm.

While social media wasn’t new to 2020, our reliance on it to stay connected and informed grew throughout the pandemic. Journalists kept us up to date by real time tweeting the press conferences with public health officials; government officials used Facebook live to let us know what new restrictions were coming; doctors and nurses went to Instagram stories to share their stories from the frontlines; and politicians like Jagmeet Singh turned to TikTok to partake in many Canadians’ favourite pandemic pastime.

What became increasingly important for social media during the pandemic, was building a sense of collective community, and comradery. COVID-19 was, and continues to be, a lonely, isolating, and frankly, scary time. For us to quell waves and end lockdowns, we needed the community at large to follow restrictions and think about the collective, over the individual. This feeling of community, the “we can do this when we come together” attitude, is what politicians are now trying to foster to get Canadians to vote, and more specifically, for them.

With the #elxn44 campaign well underway we can see that things are not business as usual. The large shoulder-to-shoulder political rallies from The Before Times have been replaced by smaller events, socially distant, with masks. Well, for the most part anyway. Justin Trudeau’s recent campaign rallies have been postponed, moved, and cancelled due to crowds of anti-Trudeau haters.

Mobs of angry anti-vaccine protesters that are frequent posters to local community Facebook groups and the comment sections for Party leaders Twitter posts, are emerging from their computer screens to blast the Liberal leader right to his face. This is happening right as Canadians are starting to turn off their out of office notifications and pay attention to the headlines flooding their newsfeeds. Abacus’ latest poll had Mr. Trudeau with the lowest momentum score with 36% of respondents having a declining view of him as a leader. This is problematic for a party that saw themselves in majority territory a mere two weeks ago. If the Liberals want to see a change in polls that are starting to lean right, they need to up their social game with the right messages at the right time.

As a public affairs advertising agency, spark* has been closely monitoring the parties and leaders’ online presence. There’s a lot of candidates across parties that are getting it right – and many that are getting it wrong. Candidates like Melissa Lantsman, the CPC Candidate for Thornhill, is putting out interesting creative that may seem off brand for CPC but works for her own brand. She has an active presence on many social platforms and frequently engages with her followers.

One of the things our spark* colleague and social media extraordinaire, Emily Wagar, says all the time is “you can’t forget the social in social media.” What she means by this is that people shouldn’t use social media to talk at people and disseminate information. When used best, it creates two-way dialogue. This again goes back to the idea of creating connection and community. If a candidate takes the time to engage online they are going to find more success and build their following much quicker than those who just constantly pump out information.

So what’s going to happen on September 20? At this point, it’s a toss-up. A lot can happen in the digital and real world over the next three weeks and with the race between the Liberals and Conservatives narrowing, we’re not placing any bets just yet.