Heading in to the last federal election, a number of MPs decided to change their Twitter handles (the name of their Twitter accounts). It was a change made mostly by candidates who had “MP” in the handle, recognizing that when Parliament is dissolved we are a country without MPs. So, handles like @tonyclement_mp became @tonyclement_cpc. It was a relatively minor re-branding exercise. Still, it’s one that requires an education campaign. It takes time and effort. It’s disruptive to a digital footprint and can cause trouble for the owner of the brand. It’s something I generally recommend against unless there’s a good reason.
Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner rose in the House of Commons on September 17, 2012 to announce she was changing her name back to her birth name, Candice Bergen. That’s a good enough reason to engage in a re-branding exercise. Perhaps it’s that knowledge or simply the surprise of seeing the name of a famous actress in a poll I posted last week that resulted in her selection as the subject of this week’s digital makeover. Thank you to everyone who participated in the poll.
My first interaction with Ms. Bergen’s digital ecosystem was a Google search on “Candice Bergen.” I did that intentionally to test her brand’s strength in bumping up against a decidedly more famous Candice Bergen.
The MP benefited from media attention surrounding her name change. A CBC.ca piece gave her the number three position in the Google search. She also holds down the number five position in a Yahoo! news piece also on her name change. That’s helpful information. However, none of it points to online properties she controls. That doesn’t come up until the second link on the second page of results. Not bad considering how recent the change is. Not particularly good in the grand scheme of things as anything beyond the first 3-5 results, and especially beyond the first page of results is often overlooked.
Ms. Bergen’s website is a well put-together foundation for her digital ecosystem. It’s fairly easy to navigate and the eyes know where to go to find information. Links to her Facebook Fan Page and Twitter stream are placed in an unconventional location which more-or-less hides them from the people who may be looking in the usual places.
Her Facebook link asks for site visitors to “Support Candice on Facebook Today!” While the word ‘support’ may be attention-getting because it’s unusual in this context, I’m inclined to believe this is an artifact of her election campaign. That’s not nearly as problematic as the fact that it points to her old Facebook Fan Page on which an announcement was posted over a month ago that the old page is closing, visitors should go to the new one. The new page was opened on September 17, 2012. Not updating the link is a significant mistake. Perhaps as significant as the new Facebook page not providing a link back to her website, nor any other contact information. She has that covered on Twitter, though.
Missing from the list of her social media outposts on her website is Ms. Bergen’s YouTube channel. She does have a textual list of videos from a variety of sources (including her YouTube channel) on her site’s “Video room.” This part of her site needs a usability review. Her YouTube profile lacks a description, photo and link back to her website.
I stumbled on another problem quite by accident. And, in Ms. Bergen’s defence, it represents the first time I’ve considered mobile in a digital makeover. I happened to be on the train when I began looking at her digital ecosystem and discovered her website is essentially broken on iOS devices (iPhones, iPads and iPods). Specifically, the navigation interface on her page is missing and the main window requires Adobe Flash (not possible on iOS).
Three opportunities for improvement:
- Correct the link to your Facebook Fan Page on your website. It needs to point to your new/current fan page. I’d also remove the ‘Support Candice’ language in the process.
- Update your YouTube profile to include a photo, description and a link back to your website.
- This is the biggy… make your website mobile-friendly.
Ms. Bergen’s (new) Facebook page is home to a lot of images highlighting her activities as a politician. Many of the images are posed which helps the candid photos jump out even more than they already do. She also includes embedded videos of appearances on CBC and CTV. One thing none of us control is the pre-roll advertising that makes it into those videos. Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit when a steamy Gucci ad came up before political panel discussion involving Ms. Bergen and NDP MP Randall Garrison.
Her Twitter voice is natural and personable, covering political activities and personal exchanges, many which make for fun permission-based eavesdropping. She also includes the occassional inspiring quote.
Ms. Bergen has published 287 tweets in the last six months, occassionally curated with relevant hashtags. I couldn’t help but notice her most commonly used word, today, which appears in 43 of tweets her tweets (15% in the evaluated period). Other common words include great (36 tweets, 13%) and thank or thanks (31 tweets, 11%).
And, like many MPs, Ms. Bergen uses YouTube to share videos of her House of Commons appearances and official statements.
UPDATE 10:00am: I forgot to mention I’m not a fan of the jumpy news-ticker at the top of her webpage.
Three opportunities for improvement:
- Post more candid photos.
- Post some photos from your own perspective.
- Shoot and post short candid videos of your various community activities.
Participation & Community
Ms. Bergen seems to understand the value of social media and channels most of her efforts to engage with the public over Twitter. While most of her tweets share thoughts and draw attention to her work as an MP, 22% of her tweets are retweets and 16% are replies. More importantly, her content is generally conversational in tone and not uncomfortably-partisan. That combined with her work probably explains why her Twitter handle is identified in 682 tweets by 402 other people over the last six months. Not bad.
There’s less to say about her Facebook page where some of her photos attract a few likes and even fewer comments. The comments she does attract are polar opposites; over-the-top praise for Ms. Bergen and over-the-top criticism of her and nothing in between. To her credit, Ms. Bergen doesn’t appear to be deleting hyper-partisan criticism. However, she also isn’t responding to anything. She’s also not doing anything to encourage discussion.
By contrast, Ms. Bergen appears to be using her website to try to draw in the public. She’s currently hosting a poll about matrimonial property rights for aboriginal women. That’s the kind of thing that might do well on Facebook and should certainly be getting some support through Twitter. I wonder what Ms. Bergen will do with the results online which showcase what the results of the poll mean to her.
Three opportunities for improvement:
- Create a policy to facilitate productive participation on your Facebook page.
- Do more with polls to safely encourage discussion rather than polarizing participants.
- Become more involved in the discussion.
Interruption (the bonus category)
Even though it was already included in my analysis, I like the fact that Ms. Bergen is hosting polls on her website. That’s often the first place people go. Also, I think it’s fair to acknowlege that undertaking a re-branding exercise online, particularly against a celebrity who shares your name, is a significant commitment. Clearly, though, more effort needs to be done in the planning stages to ensure things go smoothly.