Can the number of likes a candidate has on Facebook indicate their chances of winning the 2011 Canadian Federal election? That’s what the teams at Optimum PR and Dare Labs in Vancouver wanted to find out, so they have joined forces to create The Social Election Experiment.
Since there are now over 16 Million Facebook users in Canada, the teams at Dare and Optimum PR decided to look at Facebook support (“likes”) for candidates in each of the 308 ridings across Canada – in real time. They will be tracking the race dynamically, and showing a snapshot of where each candidate stands in every race across the country and any changes in daily trends.
The experiment was inspired by research published after the 2010 House and Senate Elections in the US. The team at Facebook went back after the election was over to see if support for a candidate on the popular social network translated into real world support in a few key ridings. Their analysis showed that more than 80% of Senate races and 74% of House races could have been accurately predicted based on which candidate was more widely “liked” on Facebook.
“We have decided to keep our methodology very straightforward”, explained David Brodie, Vice President, Western Canada at Optimum PR and former Prime Ministerial advisor. “We’ve identified the nominated candidates for each party and will be measuring the number of likes each gains throughout the race looking for trends. This is the first time anyone has ever tracked an election on Facebook in this much detail, and we are excited to see what the results can tell us about the important role social media plays in both shaping and reflecting public opinion.”
“Our goal is not only to see what is happening throughout the race, but also to encourage all candidates to become more social online” added Angele Beausoleil, VP, Strategy and Innovation Dare North America. “We have added tips on our site explaining how candidates can establish their own presence on Facebook if they don’t already have one, and we hope we can help this become the most social election in Canadian history.”
Meanwhile in other election news, canada.com has partnered with the community-powered news organization OpenFile to offer Canadians a new way to participate in the federal election. Readers can click on the “Your Idea” icon on the canada.com home page to suggest election stories that they feel deserve more attention. The goal of this collaboration is to gather information from Canadians to help shape the way the federal election is covered.
“More than ever, this election is influenced by Canadians setting ‘the real agenda’,” said Scott Anderson, Senior Vice President, Content at Postmedia Network. “We’re asking Canadians what they want their candidates – local and national – to be talking about during the campaign.”
OpenFile.ca is a collaborative news site where readers suggest stories and journalists are assigned to report and write on those deemed relevant. OpenFile’s community-driven news platform will be used to manage the flow of user-suggested stories, to assign journalists and to enable Canadians to view and interact with the proposed stories. The stories will be available to canada.com, Postmedia Network newspapers and online properties, and to OpenFile’s seven city websites.
“This partnership provides Canadians with a unique opportunity to shape the way this important election is covered at the local and national level,” said Wilf Dinnick, CEO of OpenFile. “Working with canada.com and Postmedia Network, our editors and journalists will report the stories that might otherwise get missed along the campaign trail. We’re excited to tell the stories that matter to Canadians in the communities where they live.”