Susan and Will interrupt regularly scheduled programming for a special Canadian federal election episode of The 4am Report.
This week they invite one of their favourite guests, Andrew Jenkins, back to the table to talk about the role of digital media when it comes to the election cycle.
People get their news on social media. We know this. We read headlines and have the attention span of about 150 characters. We keep up on pop culture via memes and gifs. So what does this mean for political parties?
Let’s dig in, shall we?
Andrew kicks things off with a 101 on the rise of rich media and its impact on how we consume messaging.
He talks about how we’re image and video obsessed. And how everyone with a smartphone is a creator of content.
Will explains a simple formula that illustrates how social media is king when it comes to getting your message out. People aren’t watching the evening news. But they are sitting on their couch on their phone scrolling through Tweets and Insta stories.
Of course political parties are stepping up. But social media is beast and it won’t be tamed.
Case in point - Will refers to how Elections Canada royally messed up an influencer campaign that had a price tag of 650K. Basically they didn’t properly vet the influencers they chose to work with.
Andrew talks some of the benefits of social media when it comes to the election. Politicians can’t get away with bending the truth as easily. (Well, at least that’s true here in Canada. We won’t mention another country where misinformation via Twitter seems to be working quite well for someone). Andrew points to how people are literally fact checked by social media in real time as they speak.
Will wonders if politics needs to whole-heartedly embrace memes as a way of communicating with their audience. It seems the only things getting shared these days are memes. Susan states that memes are the 2019 version of the political cartoon. So true!
Andrew warns politicians to be careful with trying to create and control memes involving themselves. According to him, just keep your fingers crossed that you end up on the good side of the meme. Trying to control memes could blow up in your face.
Susan and Andrew bring it back to some takeaways for our listeners. If we are getting our news about politics via social media, how can we do this responsibly? According to Andrew, it’s up to us to make sure we’re fact checking and following a diverse group of authorities.
The episode ends with Andrew highlighting what he feels is a great benefit of social media when it comes to politics. Back in the day, you’d have to write a letter to your local MP’s constituency office. Today, you add the right level of sass to a tweet, and hit post. You have a very direct line of communication to them.
Andrew Jenkins has provided social media strategy and social selling services to numerous mid to large enterprises such as CIBC, Royal Bank of Canada, BMO Nesbitt Burns, National Bank, Sirius XM Canada, the Globe and Mail, World Vision Canada, and the Aga Khan Foundation. He has spent the last twenty years working in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) spanning social media, wireless, and e-business. He holds a BA in Economics from Laurentian University, a BFA in Film Production from York University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He also taught entrepreneurship at OCAD University and currently teaches Digital Strategy at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Andrew speaks internationally about the social and digital landscape. His entrepreneurial efforts have been featured in the Toronto Star and by LinkedIn Canada as one of their success stories.
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