I know, I know, this title sounds like a joke… But, who knows ? Things could change.
With the federal elections coming in October 2011, a few candidates already announced their intention of using social media, including twitter to reach their potential voters. The cases of candidates for the Council of States are particularly interesting, because it’s an election in which they need to seduce voters beyond the borders of their political family, since they are elected by majority voting.
According to the Aargauer Zeitung, almost 80% of the members of the federal Assembly have a personal webpage. This number falls to 50% regarding facebook pages, and less than 20% for twitter accounts. Many politicians, like Pascale Bruderer —present member of the National Council from Aargau and candidate for the Council of State — have understood the benefit of a well managed facebook page, but fail to take advantage of the possibilities offered by twitter.
The Member of the Socialist Party, seems to be among the few who realize the time investment necessary to have an efficient presennce on twitter. Some just create an account, and hope it will all work by itself, and bring people to get interessted, notunderstanding the expectations of the public.
Take Felix Gutzwiler, member of the Radical-Liberal Party in Zürich, for example. This candidate for the Council of States used twitter to post a picture of himself posing with the singer Amy McDonald.
This attempt to give a relaxed image, to get closer to the public could have been successful if it would have been followed by other posts of the same type. It was not the case, this post is his last one, of an impressive total of 9.
Moreover this action couldn’t possibly have had any effect given the number of followers he has. Also interesting to notice that the only person he follows is Christian Bretscher, a expert in communication, member of the same political party as Mr. Gutzwiler.
The candidates for the Council of State in the canton of Zürich are quite representative of the different approaches towards twitter existing among swiss politicians.
First there are candidates, that have an account but don’t know how to use it, or maybe don’t want to invest any time in it, like Felix Gutzwiler, or the — on internet— almost inexistent Urs Hany of the Christian-Democratic Party.
Christoph Blocher from the People’s Party is also a candidate in this election. He’s a very well known public figure, and would certainly rapidly get a big number of followers, but oddly his account is protected, which means his tweets are not visible, unless he accepts a follow request, which, in my case did not happen.
This is really a strange choice coming from a person, that is known for his strategic thinking and for his outstanding communication ability. A generation problem ? At 71 the old tribune might have lost a little of his drive to reach as many people as possible, even if he has showed in the pas that he doesn’t mind using the internet to promulgate his views. The president of the party, Toni Brunner, has taken over, and is present on twitter to spread the message (yipee… ).
There is one candidate in Zürich, for whom twitter is clearly part of a campaign strategy. Balthasar Glättli, member of the Green Party, is very active on twitter, with at least 2 or 3 tweets a day, communicating as well about his personal interest,
as his political message.
He really tries to involve the public in the campaign by asking them to give him feedback, for example,
or with live-blogging.
Balthasar Glättli was tweeting before becoming a candidate and he is working in the computer branch. It isn’t such a surprise to see him so comfortable around social medias.
There is one more candidate for the Council of state in Zürich: Verena Diener from the Green-Liberal Party. She has a very clear opinion on social medias. She made the choice to have neither a facebook page, nor a twitter account, explaining, that, not knowing exactly how to us them, she wouldn’t be able to do it right. In consequence it would not bring her any benefit, and she would invest time for nothing. In this regard, strangely shares Balthasar Glättli’s point of view.
The two last example show, the importance of being coherent. If a politician is not prepared to invest time for his presence in social medias, to change his communication habits — especially for twitter — it might be better for him to stay completely out of them. A non-udated profile or website, like those of the majority of the swiss politician, has the opposite effect as expected : giving the image of a person out of place on the internet. It seems, that most politician don’t realize, their credibility is also an issue on social medias.