Politicians using social media

During a recent by-election in my neighborhood, I started following one of the candidates to see if indeed they were really trying to engage their followers. But since the election, I haven’t seen any posts at all!

I’m thinking about the recent rise of social media use by politicians and I wonder if the candidates’ use of social media was just to win the election or were they just trying to use something during the election that’s “new and cool” to convince voters that they are keeping up with the times?

Here is a link to the orginal post on PCWorld- and reproduced below.



After seeing some tweets by a candidate in a recent provincial by-election in my neighbourhood, I pondered the recent rise of social media use by politicians. I wonder if the candidates’ use of social media was just to win the election or were they just trying to use something during the election that’s “new and cool” to convince voters that they are keeping up with the times?

Since the rise of mass electronic media in the last century, politicians have been trying out new technologies to communicate their messages to voters. In the early 1960s politicians were looking to the relatively new medium of television as the next big thing to connect with voters. The first televised presidential debates between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy attracted enormous publicity and would prove to be a turning point in the 1960 presidential election.

At the time, the Kennedy team knew that America was tired of the same old politicians and the team wanted to harness the relatively new medium of TV to portray Kennedy as a young, dashing politician in contrast to the more conservative Nixon. In the first debate Nixon argued his points clearly, but didn’t look as composed and relaxed on screen as Kennedy. To highlight the difference the new medium made to the results of the first debate, those watching on TV said that Kennedy won the debate and those listening on radio gave the win to Nixon.

More recently in the 2008 Presidential Race, Team Obama used social media very effectively to convert online donations into voters and channel online enthusiasm to effective on-the-ground support.

For example, in February 2008, Barack Obama did not attend any conventional campaign fundraisers. Despite that, he raised $55M in 29 days through the use of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. During the same period, McCain raised $11M through conventional fundraisers.

But what about after the election? Was Obama’s use of social media just to win the vote? In the case of Obama, the use of Twitter for example has continued post-election with the image below showing a recent tweet.


Closer to home, Toronto Mayor David Miller is certainly an ardent “twitterer'” using it to interact with city residents on a variety of topics from city council to Toronto FC soccer club matches.

When used authentically, social media can help politicians get their message across to motivate voters. But savvy politicians need to know that in order to retain credibility with their constituents they have to be willing to put in the time to continue to connect with their followers; if not, they run the risk of being thought of as jumping on the “new technology” bandwagon, and damaging their image and reducing their credibility.

Socially yours,

Jeffrey Veffer
Twitter: @jeffreyveffer

Who uses social networks, anyway?

In this post for PC World I look at a few startling statistics on who is using social networks and their influence.

Here is the post on PCWorld and reproduced below



When I first started getting into social networking a few years ago, most of the research available said that the dominant age group using sites like Facebook were teens and young adults. I expected this for no other reason than the founders of Facebook were looking to share photos from college with other students and so that’s the age group that found the site useful and fun.

Over the next few years, as more and more people starting getting into social networking, the numbers changed so that now there are more US Facebook users aged 26-44 than 18-25. In fact, users 55 and over make up the fastest growing segment using the site – they’ve grown a tremendous 513% over the first six months of this year. If you were to add up all the time spent just on Facebook, it would come out to 5% of all time spent online by US users (or about 3 solid hours) each and every month.

What’s more amazing is the sheer number of people that have an account on Facebook. The site reported recently that it has over 250 million users worldwide. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest behind the United States!

It’s clear that people are flocking to social networks – but why? The predominant motivation for creating a social network presence is social rather than professional; although, as more people use professional networking sites like LinkedIn, the more the balance will tip away from arranging parties to arranging meetings.

With usage statistics like these, it’s clear that social networks appeal to more of us than just teens or college students. As more people join, the more useful these networks are for everyone.

Socially yours,

Jeffrey Veffer
Twitter: @jeffreyveffer

Digital Life- Google and statistics


Google recently launched its Internet Stats site which brings together information from across five different industry groups and serves it up in bite sized, Twitter-like pieces for easy consumption. It by no means is a fully comprehensive look at all the statistics out there it does provide an interesting set of seemingly separate chunks of information.

That got me thinking – what if I could take some stats and try to build a story around them and set them to music? So here is the first draft of what that looks like.

Panel discussion – How To Acheive A Sustainable Social Media Ecosystem

I will be speaking as part of a panel on the topic of:

“How To Achieve A Sustainable Social Media Ecosystem”

Here are the event details:

Companies are increasingly tapping into Social Media.  What differentiates the champions from the flash in the pan are two things: Sustainability and an Ecosystem approach.

In this talk, you will first hear about the 4 pillars of achieving a sustainable Social Media strategy:

  • Thinking
  • Planning
  • Building
  • Managing

We will then dive deeper into the best practices and case studies of 3 popular Social Media tools – Blog, Facebook and Twitter – and how such an ecosystem, when done right, helps steer a company’s connection with their customers.

Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Time:    6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Location: Sutton Place Hotel, 955 Bay St., (Royal Sutton Salon A)

To register click here: