Twitter Cops – How the Nova Scotia NDP, PC and Liberals Fare on Twitter

For some, Twitter is about community and social media should be ‘social’. For others, it’s just another PR device they are forced to use. We follow the #nspoli tag on Twitter closely to keep an eye on what politicians and their political staff are up to, and often see the public calling them out on their lack of understanding on the Rules of Engagement. We’ve deputized two readers as Twitter Cops. Here are their reports:

M. Zhang (@yaomifanma on Twitter)

Politicians are allowed to have personal lives. And being slightly irreverent when using social media is fine by me. So if they use their Twitter account for both work and play that’s OK cola. But do it right. There aren’t soooo many rules to follow. Don’t spam. Talk to people instead of just pushing out your own message. And what the (flip) is up with talking about what you had for lunch and then tagging #nspoli.


He chose the pie.

But if you make that mistake, then what the (flip) is up with ignoring people who remind you that that talking about your ham sandwich is not what #nspoli is for? Jamie Baillie wants to show he’s human by talking about his tough decision between ordering blueberry pie and cheesecake? Ok, yeah but why the (flip) does his staffer tag that tweet with #nspoli? Why be purposefully disruptive people on Twitter interested in discussing or debating real issues? Kelly Regan, Jamie Baillie, and all the other offenders – just because you’re a politician doesn’t make attending a (flipping) barbecue or a ballet a political action.

A. Sparling (@alliesomething on Twitter)

I would certainly call any political party without an adequate social media presence at risk of being irrelevant, but doing it correctly is just as important.

Twitter is about conversations, and the #nspoli hashtag was a way for people to talk, debate, and sometimes troll. Imagine if you had a club of people, some you liked more than others, that you got together with every day and all of the sudden there were frequent commercial breaks in the middle of your meetings. That’s what the latest social media strategy for Nova Scotia political parties seems to be.

Of course, what parties are tweeting is political, and I am glad they are involved in the discussion, but it is starting to feel like vomit. There are only so many times I can see someone retweet the same press release before you start to get very angry. If it were general members of the public, it would be acceptable, but seeing the same people every day RTing and RTing at the same old bits of information and adding #nspoli every time is stale.

There is no DISCUSSION. There is no COMMUNICATION. Parties that do not actually talk back or engage people turns Twitter into a pool of vomit instead of dialogue. If we are all just seeing who can shout the loudest, then no one is really heard.

We counted how many conversations the three Nova Scotia political parties had with citizens. Here is the chart for the first 10 months on 2011 for the @nsndp @nspc and @nsliberal accounts.

Nova Scotia Political Party Use of Social Media

A chart of how the NSNDP, NSPC and NS Liberal Parties use Twitter to engage with people.

FootNote: We do not count Retweets (RTs), Follow Fridays (FFs), or “Thanks for the RT”, “Thanks for the FF”, or quoting, as conversations. If we did, the chasm between the parties would be a canyon.