I’ve been wondering about the digital game of the Progressive Conservative leadership candidates here in Alberta. So I did a little digging, some of which I’ll share here today.
Who’s talking? Many who spend time following the #pcldr hashtag seems to be a small grouping. This is partial speculation, however, with as explosive as politics can be, this is really low engagement overall. People just don’t seem to care about what’s being said, at least enough to spur on discussion and content generation online outside of the current observers. The group actively participating in this Twitter discussion, predominately led by candidate supporters is even smaller.
Taking samples such as the one below over a week or more, the players on the list move up and down but generally stay the same. You’d think that the best time to see the most activity would be during or right after a live debate. That is generally true, although policy announcements help, yet the amount of people being reached on Twitter, is in my opinion, very small considering the importance of this. I do expect this to heat up as we get closer to the first ballot in mid-September. Here’s a screen shot from tweetreach.
Now lets take a look at the Wildrose Alliance Party and their hashtag #wrp, who are not currently in an internal leadership race.
By comparison, the Downtown Arena District hashtag #yegarena discussion as of late has heated up but in the last 24 hours is on a bit of decline.
Go beyond this one small view, and take into consideration the amount of main stream media coverage this issue has generated in the last 6 days or so surrounding the Enoch and MLA PR issues have reached well over a million people.
The reasons for the low digital engagement regarding the PC leadership race in part would include accounts with small follower counts engaging. A small cross-section of account variety engaging in the discussion. That said, I’m not including the #ableg or #pcaa hashtags in this post, and that would normally need to be sifted through and considered for a more accurate reading of issue reach. Also, the various campaign camps might want to consider the activity of their own teams in particular.
When building a better understanding of a digital footprint, one should consider several factors. To measure more accurately, say as part of a formal project report, I would consider all primary elements that make up a digital footprint. From the content created, the attention given to that content, the influence of those engaging, the sentiment of the comments, and the reach of that content across all relevant digital channels, such as Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, political blogs and mainstream media websites, then compare that with conversions. This is a lot of work. Some may be fooled into thinking that a single piece of software might handle all of this, and they’d be wrong.
To interpret what’s happening within that PC tweetreach stat above we need to ask some key questions. Sure hired guns can create white noise to look busy but is this translating into increased interest in their candidate? I’m seeing more impact based on direct comments made by a particular candidate. As it should be. How about the volunteers? A small group of 5-7 or so per candidate quick to defend their candidates is evident, but are they convincing voters to join the discussion, donate to their candidate, buy a membership and become advocates? I’m seeing a bit more positive evidence of this lately based on some of my own real-time analysis, that said, I wouldn’t suggest evidence of a “landslide” victory for any one candidate. Pretty safe to assume this is going to a second ballot.
Curious as to who is getting the most traffic to their website? I consulted Alexa.com which provides a global ranking for all websites. The higher the number, the more websites with better traffic than your website. You want a low number.
In order of Alexa ranking worst to best:
When asking why these rankings are the way they are, there are several reasons. From a commitment or lack thereof to digital content generation, and existence of an actual digital strategy versus those who haven’t focused on it. In the case of Rick Orman, a concerted use of traditional advertising driving awareness. He is also an outlier and less of a known entity as compared to the other candidates, plus he throws all other candidates under the bus every chance he gets. Having said that, the proof is in the conversions pudding. Each campaign will know whether this traffic is translating into meaningful membership conversion. I would hope they’re modifying web content based on their internal web analytics AND what they’re hearing at events. However, the above evidence supports that this work is beyond some of these campaigns. In at least a couple of the campaigns, this is likely a lack of knowledge and understanding. In others, I would add a lack of prioritizing resources to focus on this.
Just for fun I also looked up the various Party websites.
Clearly, this is only a fraction of the information that one should consider before making any serious judgements, recommendations or moves. However, if one or more campaigns takes a critical look at what they’re doing, and can figure out the flash points that drive membership conversions for them in particular among voters, and then repeat it, some late gains can be made. I will say though, there is little help for those without any strategy. The numbers above separate those who are simply going through the motions from those making a concerted effort.
Also, one final little tid-bit, currently with respect to “sentiment,” Doug Griffiths and Alison Redford are reaping more positive comments related to their efforts in the last couple of debates, Doug Horner, Gary Mar and Rick Orman are not inspiring noticeable jumps in positive sentiment, the majority is “neutral,” and Ted Morton is leading with respect to negative sentiment.
One other key thing to monitor is the low “attack” factor. Generally the Wildrose is leading the political attacks with one NDP supporter being vocal. That said, the PC candidates are generally not being challenged as much as I would have expected.
For me, as far as personal voting goes, demonstrating an understanding of technology is important to me regardless of Party. Technology permeates our lives, whether you’re 9 or 90 years old. This isn’t the only consideration to be sure, but it’s important, and it drives me nuts that in this day and age, we still have to explain to business and political leaders that there’s this little thing called the “Internet,” an environment that should definitely be respected and mastered. For me, the above numbers suggest there’s a fair amount of work yet to do.