Naheed Nenshi elected mayor of Facebook, er, Calgary

by Liam Britten

Monday saw the election of a new mayor in Calgary, and Naheed Nenshi’s victory certainly is deserving of the term “underdog victory.”

Running in Canada’s most conservative city is a challenge for any candidate, but Nenshi, a Muslim academic with no formal experience and at a severe disadvantage in both name recognition and fundraising, managed to overcome some major obstacles in his bid to take the keys to City Hall.

His opponents were long-time alderman Ric McIver and CTV anchorwoman Barb Higgins. Both were very well-known candidates within the city, and both had well-oiled fundraising machines at their disposal. So how did Nenshi overtake these two heavily favoured front runners?

Some analysts are crediting Nenshi’s win to his far superior utilization of social media techniques. And it’s not hard to see why, just take a look at his Facebook page: it’s alive with, video messages from the candidate himself, an email list for supporters to sign up for, and timely, relevant updates right up to election time; the works, basically. All of this translated into a Facebook following of over 11,000 Calgarians, compared to 1,400 for Higgins and a laughable 74 for Ric McIver.

Nenshi was using other social media tools, like Twitter and even an iPhone app, and it just goes to show how valuable these tools are in modern electoral campaigns. As Nenshi said in this interview with The Calgary Herald, the most important thing about social media isn’t to use it as a new way to bombard people with press releases, but to “further the conversation.”

"We're using the same tools as everyone else," says the candidate. "It's how we're using them and the message we're getting out that's very different.

"We use social media to really engage with people in detail, to actually talk to them.

"Where Ald. McIver seems to use these things as news release tools, for instance, I regularly answer people's questions and further the conversation."

"At first I thought, who in the world would want to download a little app so they could have me in their pockets at all the time? It's ridiculous. But hundreds of people did."

San Francisco, California, United States

Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking... more

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. more

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Liam Britten

Liam Britten

Liam Britten is a writer and editor with a journalism background operating out of Vancouver. In addition to his work at Techvibes, he has been published in student publications across Canada, as well as local newspapers such as The MapleRidge-Pitt Meadows TIMES and The Langley Advance. An aficionado for the finer things in life — such as video games and sports — Liam is plugged into the tech... more

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