Mayor Don Atchison, Henry Dayday join the Twittersphere
Twitter neophytes Mayor Don Atchison and mayoral candidate
Henry Dayday are ramping up their online presence, hoping to engage voters and
inform citizens ahead of the fall election.
Both Atchison and Dayday created Twitter handles earlier this week, following in the footsteps of municipal politicians across Canada.
In a technocratic age where the average citizen can engage with anybody they want, politicians need to be on Twitter, said Stephen Carter, the former campaign strategist for Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
"Every medium that has come along, politicians need to be on it," said Carter, who is now the vice-president and national director of campaign strategies at Hill and Knowlton. "When radio came along, they had to be on the radio and it's the same with Twitter and Facebook."
But signing up and jumping on the social media bandwagon is not enough, said Carter. Politicians need to "interact" with their followers and talk to them directly.
"Naheed was a genius at it," said Carter. "He would go back after a full day of campaigning and he'd open up his Twitter account and he'd interact one-to-one with all of his Twitter followers."
That approach won Nenshi the 2010 municipal election, a watershed moment for the former business school professor who was considered the underdog against long-time alderman Ric McIver and veteran newscaster Barb Higgins
Today, the 40-year-old has 64,847 followers -- an astounding number in comparison to Atchison, who has 256 followers, and Dayday with a conservative 31 followers.
"We've been looking at [starting a Twitter account] for a long time," said Atchison. "But you know when you're doing about 1,100 meetings and functions a year, you read 17 papers a day, it's a question of being able to find a time to be able to send out some tweets."
Atchison said he now plans to use Twitter everyday as a way to reach out to residents.
"Not everyone reads the newspaper and not everyone listens to all the news broadcast and so consequently, we want to make sure that this is another form for people to be able to pick up on information," explained the mayor, who admits he's dabbled with the social media tool before but still considers the technology quite new.
On Friday, Atchison sent out his first tweet.
"Hello #yxe! This is great - live and in living colour on Twitter. Stay tuned for more exciting information," wrote the mayor via his Twitter handle @AtchisonDon.
Former mayor Henry Dayday, the only other declared mayoral candidate so far, penned his first Twitter post on Wednesday.
"Thank you for following me. I am just getting started with the campaign," wrote the long-time resident of Saskatoon via his Twitter handle @HenryDayday.
Dayday said he decided to join Twitter after seeing how effective the social media tool has been for other Canadian politicians.
"People now use the Internet a lot, they Twitter a lot and they text a lot," he explained, and "so I think the time has come that these tools have become a part of the political campaign."
Follow on Twitter: @fanyeesuen