By April 15, 2013 1 Comments Read More →

Digital Makeover: Bob Rae

Bob Rae ended his run as interim Liberal Leader yesterday. With that, it appears he also apparently gave up any hope of becoming the elected leader of the party. In interviews, it seems a bittersweet decision for Mr. Rae.

In November, Mr. Rae received the “Orator of the Year” award during Maclean’s Magazine’s annual Parliamentary awards. So, how does the man who speaks so well (and extemporaneously) in person do in the online world?

[For the record, I had considered doing a digital makeover of Justin Trudeau. However, I already published his makeover in October.]

Digital Ecosystem

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Makeover-BobRae-website

Mr. Rae’s digital ecosystem is made up of a number of brands in his role as a member of the federal Liberal Party. The centrepiece is his website (which forwards to his presence on the Liberal site) mostly because that’s clearly the intent. His website is clean and easy to navigate, though there are some anomalies such as the contact information is not nearly as prominent as a page dedicated to the books Mr. Rae has written. Provided it’s kept up to date, I like the way he’s incorporated a public Google calendar on his site.

His website links outward to three properties: his Twitter account and Facebook Fan Page  (both of which he controls) and his page on OpenParliament.ca, a third-party maintained site which aggregates content and activity related to MPs.

Mr. Rae also has a YouTube channel named Bob Rae TV and a Flickr photostream. There are no obvious links to these properties on Mr. Rae’s website. However, you can get to them by through the individual photos and videos embedded in the Photos and Videos sections of his site. His YouTube Channel has identifying information and a link to his website while his Flickr stream lacks both. It’s not entirely surprising those two properties are hidden given they apparently exist exclusively for his 2011 election campaign (even though his YouTube channel is named Bob Rae TV, the URL centres on BobRaeCampaign2011).

Having purpose-specific brands in an ecosystem can be effective for campaigns of all sorts, this approach introduces a number of challenges. If Mr. Rae decides to run in 2015, his 2011 properties complete with their following become obsolete rather than platforms on which he can build energy. This means making a difficult decision on abandoning the energy invested to date and starting over, or accepting that legacy brands may look bad but capitalize on earlier efforts. In the absence of a cohesive strategy, election-specific properties can often transition from being assets to burdens.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Use your calendar to show more of the work and activities you’re involved in (e.g. Leadership convention, return of QP, particular debates, events, etc…)
  • Publish a personal (rather than officially worded) message to your website acknowledging your time and support as interim Liberal Leader.
  • Use your website to help people recommit to the Liberal party as it heads into a new era.

GRADE: C

Content

Content production is not one of Mr. Rae’s strong suits. Well, at least as far as publishing a fresh supply of to his various digital outposts.

Mr. Rae seems to direct some of his attention at his Facebook Fan Page. A very small degree of his attention. He last posted something new there on November 16; the text of a speech he delivered to The Canadian Club of Toronto. That came a little over two months after his next-most-recent post. To his credit, he appears to have decoupled his Twitter stream from his Facebook Fan Page in June. You can read more about that in the Participation & Community section of this makeover (below).

BobRae-tweetBy contrast, Mr. Rae has published 1,025 tweets since October 15 (six months). As with many politicians, he can be quite partisan at times. He’s published messages drawing parallels between “Animal Farm” and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, Mr. Rae also inflects some cheeky wording into his politically-charged tweets with “Pander Bear meets Panda Bear” serving as a recent example. Some of his tweets also offer insight into political strategy. His personal voice gives some insight into the politician through tweets about baseball, hockey, golf among other interests.

YouTube and Flickr are boat anchors. I was expecting he might have done more with those outposts during his time as interim leader. It’s a safer bet Mr. Rae is considering retirement and doesn’t see an immediate need to put out videos and photos on his own streams (some of that is going out on official Liberal party channels). All of which supports the argument you can be an effective leader (or effective interim leader) without relying on digital channels to do your job. Justin Trudeau has a very different approach.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Keep tweeting. Add more visuals and longer-form insight on your Facebook Fan Page.
  • Delegate the creation of unscripted videos to your staff. Even if they get published to your “Election 2011″ YouTube channel, they can still do a lot to inject energy into the re-emerging Liberal party.
  • Help increase civic awareness and participation by publishing insight, behind-the-scenes views and challenges to the public. This could be a valuable resource.

GRADE: C

Participation & Community

Earlier in my analysis I praised Mr. Rae for de-coupling his Twitter stream from his Facebook Fan Page; I’m not a fan of the automating the cross-posting of every piece of content over multiple channels. By having done that in the past and not posting Facebook-specific content means Mr. Ray has devalued an important gathering place. His Facebook posts routinely attract double-digit likes (some have nearly 200 likes) and often draw out a significant amount of comment activity — it’s not hard to find posts with 40 comments. Aside from kicking them off, Mr. Rae’s name is largely missing from the conversations.

To his credit, Mr. Rae is more than just an active tweeter. In the last six months, 31% of his 1,025 tweets were retweets of content published by others (frequently media reports, but not exclusively) and 17% of his tweets are replies to others.

There are a significant number of tweets mentioning Mr. Rae — 34,106 in the last six months, 13,904 of which were retweets of his tweets.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Reignite the energy in your Facebook Fan Page. But, rather than couple Facebook and Twitter, start using Facebook to engage that community using the features Facebook offers and Twitter does not.
  • Be a participant in any chatter than results from your Facebook posts.
  • Use your status and influence to help support party newcomers.

GRADE: B+

Interruption (the bonus category)

Not many MPs link to third-party digital outposts which document their activities, particularly sites which document their voting records. Mr. Rae does. His website boasts a link to his page on OpenParliament.ca, a site that aggregates content and activities related to MPs from a variety of sources (House of Commons, news reports and Twitter).

GRADE: A

OVERALL GRADE: B-

Links to MP social media properties and digital makeovers completed to-date can be found on The Digital House.

Sketch by Andrea Ross. Analysis performed using Marketwired/Sysomos Heartbeat and MAP.

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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.
  • Marce Bylinska

    I like the addition of the visual!