Social Election Experiment: Will Facebook fans translate into votes in Canada's federal election?

by Knowlton Thomas | Culture

It a question floating around the web this election season: what impact are social media numbers going to have on the voting ballots?

The teams at Optimum PR and Dare Labs in Vancouver wanted to find out—so they joined forces to create The Social Election Experiment.

Since there are now over 16 million Facebook users in Canada, Dare and Optimum decided to look at Facebook “likes” for candidates in each of the 308 ridings across Canada in real-time. They will be tracking the race dynamically, 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 percent of Senate races and 74 percent 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 changes in public opinion and 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."

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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