By September 17, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Digital makeover: Andrew Scheer

Parliament resumes following summer break, today. Which makes this a good time to dust off my digital makeover series. This makeover looks at House Speaker Andrew Scheer. At 33, Mr. Scheer represents a younger demographic in the House; the kind of demographic with young children (there are four young Scheers). Also noteworthy… Mr. Scheer became the youngest MP ever to serve as House Speaker a year ago, at age 32; and the average age of MPs in the current makeup of Parliament is 50.98.

Online constituency office

Most MP websites try to do too much on the main page. They shoehorn volumes of text in the hopes of answering as many questions as possible in a single view. In doing so, they overwhelm the space and perhaps even confuse the reader. I often talk about the idea of a visitor’s eyes naturally knowing where to look. Party website templates are typically guilty of encouraging this approach.

It’s refreshing to see an MP website that doesn’t try to do too much in one page. His main page is clean and attractive, features some personal and professional photographs, and answers a few questions immediately: Who does this page represent? What is their role? Where can I find out more? But, does it live up to its billing as “the online constituency office for Andrew Scheer”?

Unfortunately, no. His site presents a three internal links (four if you count Home) and nine external links. Internal links provide a cleanly laid-out contact page, a brief bio of Mr. Scheer and a table of helpful services (which could stand a good redesign). External links direct visitors to a number of Parliamentary websites as well as connections to Mr. Scheer’s four chosen digital outposts. As an online constituency office goes, it doesn’t offer much information about Mr. Scheer’s constituency and any of its goings-on. It’s a static site.

Official communications

Mr. Scheer’s Facebook Fan Page features his bio and other relevant info (turns out we share a birthday – give or take nine years) including a contact email address and a link to his website. His profile photograph is the requisite busy-politician photo. Other photos show Mr. Scheer with the youngest member of their family (Henry) just hours old in the photo, and a few other good photos of Mr. Scheer’s world in politics.

That’s pretty much where the effectiveness of this outpost ends.

Spotty posts to his wall are all official communications of one form or another. There have been no new events or notes published in over a year. For a guy who looks relatable, he’s missing out on Facebook’s role as a tool to facilitate the building of an online community. As House Speaker, this would be a great place for him to connect with all Canadians through his activities and responsibilities as a politician and father, not just his own constituents.

Interesting facts:

  • The most active week for his Fan Page was June 10, around the time the public was getting anxious about Parliamentary decorum. Mr. Scheer eeked out six Likes and one positive comment.
  • The average age of the 105 people who have “Liked” the page is 24-35

His flickr and YouTube channels suffer from two problems: a laser focus on official communication, and cobwebs. Neither outpost has been updated since December. For YouTube, that means his last message to the public was his season’s greetings. The remainder of his videos are all clips from QP (including his election as House Speaker) with the exception of an attention-getting Campaign Office – 18 hours in 75 Seconds produced during the last election. Most of his videos and photos feature relevant titles, and some have descriptions. None are tagged.

Microcommunication

Despite his profile lacking a description and link to his website (his only outpost isolated from the rest of his digital ecosystem), Twitter seems to be Mr. Scheer’s tool of choice. His tweets human and relatable. Mr. Scheer has tweeted about House activities…

…being a dad…

…and being Canadian…

And one of my personal favourties, about being House Speaker…

My view is he could be doing a bit more with his Twitter stream. With only 47 tweets issued in the last six months, there is lots of opportunity for Mr. Scheer to build his online reputation and connect young Canadians with political awareness.

Fend off the cobwebs

Despite the issues I’ve identified in this makeover, Mr. Scheer shows he’s not afraid to mix politics with life. That gives him an edge over some of the more robotic online content published by other MPs. Still, my hope with the makeovers is to help MPs improve their online presence.

If I had to pick one thing Mr. Scheer should do to take care of his digital ecosystem, I would suggesting keeping his outposts current with a variety of content — professional and personal. Ideally YouTube and flickr would be updated once a month, Facebook once a week and Twitter once a day.

ANDREW SCHEER’S DIGITAL GRADE: C+

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About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of FullDuplex.ca, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.