Canadian voter apathy extends to social media realm

If a politician sends a tweet, but nobody is following them, does it even have an impact?

That’s an existential question that political campaign organizers from each of the major federal parties may be asking themselves at the end of this election period. Each party has put in ample time and resources to engage Canadians in a real-time and online manner. Federal party leaders have started Twitter accounts, party organizers are running Facebook Pages and blogs, campaign videos are being uploaded to YouTube – Indeed, it’s even been dubbed by media as the “social media election,” but it may all be for not. Most Canadians just don’t give a hoot.

Brian Jackson, journalist
Brian Jackson

In an AskingCanadians poll of 1,192 respondents conducted for by Delvinia, more than two-thirds of Canadians say they have paid no attention at all to social media efforts made by federal political parties during this campaign. The numbers don’t get much better from there.

The next biggest chunk of Canadians, 18.5 per cent, viewed social media content from political parties just once or twice so far. Only eight per cent viewed it “several times” and another 5.6 per cent more often than that. The data was collected from April 21st to April 24th.

The results are surprising considering that Canadians are generally considered to be well engaged on social media, with more than half keeping a Facebook account. But the statistics are also a refreshing reminder that it can be a challenge for any organization to win attention on social media channels, where users are in complete control of the information they are exposed to. It takes effort to create a Twitter list of political party leaders, or to Like the Facebook pages of various parties and candidates. If you’re not interested enough, that’s just not going to happen.

Just because Canadians aren’t interested, doesn’t mean that conversations aren’t taking place on social media. In this infographic from The Meltwater Group, social media mentions about the election are measured against mentions of the royal wedding and Justin Bieber.

Click for a larger image.


This study found 631,055 mentions of the election between March 23 and April 20. That’s compared to 174,962 mentions of Justin Bieber, and 17,414 mentions of the royal wedding. Election mentions came mostly from Twitter, blogs, and chat forums.

With so many uninterested Canadians, it seems that all that buzz is likely being generated by a core group of highly interested political players – politicians themselves, party members, campaign organizers, and a few political nerds.

The lesson learned here? Social media marketers must remember that they can’t simply gauge the success of any campaign – be it selling soap or Canada’s next Prime Minister – on the apparent number of times it is mentioned on social media channels. It also must be considered how many people are really listening.

AskingCanadians is an online survey community with a panel of more than160,000 members across Canada. Joining the AskingCanadians panel is free to Canadians who are in the age of majority in the provinces they reside, or have the permission of their parents or legal guardian. Qu’en pensez-vous is the sister community in Quebec. AskingCanadians is owned and operated by Delvinia Data Collection for more information go to

Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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