By February 17, 2014 1 Comments Read More →

Digital Makeover: Dean Allison

My digital makeover blog posts are among the most popular on my site. Besides the web traffic they generate, they attract appreciation, defences, criticisms and sometimes accusations that I favour one party over another. My typical response is there’s plenty of praise and constructive criticism to go around, and I do so with an equal opportunity mindset.

Frankly, I want MPs to do better. Despite what some people think, I offer my makeover series as an entertaining and informative way to activate discussion and inspire MPs (of all political stripes) and their teams to do better.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pattern, I randomly pick MPs for makeovers (hopefully) every Monday. I run on a three week cycle, moving from governing party to official opposition to third party. I randomly drop in other parties and will eventually include independents as well. There are fewer of that set so they don’t appear in the cycle as often.

I was on CBC’s The Current last week with Jennifer Hollett and Matt Gurney. We were invited to talk about politicians’ use an misuse of social media. Some followers who heard the piece suggested it’s time I featured a few MPs who could use a significant improvement online. So, for the next three weeks I’ll specifically analyse MPs who need to… ahem… do much better. And, there are quite a few.

Today, I tear the band aid from MP Dean Allison. Hopefully he takes it in good stride and will be interested in doing an interview with me for a podcast.

Digital Ecosystem

DeanAllison-DigitalEcosystem

DeanAllison-websiteJudging by his digital ecosystem, Dean Allison comes from a cohort of MPs aware of the tools of modern communication and engagement, though apparently uncommitted to using them effectively.

The composition of his digital ecosystem suggests being online his not his style and that he was probably put up to it by someone who failed to “convert” Mr. Allison into a digital migrant.

To be fair, there are other MPs who are even less effective online — some in his own caucus. Mr. Allison is but one example. I chose him to illustrate a few specific points.

While dated in look and structure, Mr. Allison’s website is not all that bad. It has the right ideas. It even offers blog-like updates on the main page which are similarly available under the successive and redundant Headlines and Press Room links under the Media Centre menu. However, as a resource for constituents and issue-stakeholders, his website fails to deliver the goods. It’s essentially an online brochure.

There appears to be some efforts to modernize his site. This includes an extremely small embedded video player which opens with a June 2012 video appearance in QP. This is one of 67 videos in a playlist. A search box appears in the lower half of the main page, and disappears the instant visitors navigate through the site. A newsletter sign up also appears on the main page.

The masthead keeps the main menu and links to his social media outposts available throughout the site. Here, you’ll find familiar logos for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. While Mr. Allison and his team keep his YouTube channel fairly well updated with content and publish the odd tweet, his Facebook Page has been growing cobwebs since September 18, 2008 and the Flickr icon links to an account that doesn’t exist.

DeanAllison-FlickrMr. Allison does have a working Flickr account which is home to four photos. It was last updated June 7, 2013.

His Twitter account is well identified and links back to his website. His Facebook presence offers basic identification information and links back to the website as well. His YouTube and Flickr profiles are weakly branded and neither links back home.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Fix the broken/incorrect link to your Flickr page and make the search capability prominent throughout your site.
  • Abandon (that is, completely take offline) or recommit yourself to neglected online properties. You are unwittingly sending a very direct and public message about your level of commitment to communication and engagement.
  • Refresh the imagery and profile information of your YouTube channel. This is a strong property in your ecosystem, and it presents as an afterthought.

GRADE: D+

Content

DeanAllison-YouTubeMr. Allison’s content strategy is generally driven by his appearances in Parliament and committee, all of which are published to his YouTube channel. That’s an easy and obvious start, and an important part of communicating to constituents and issue-stakeholders what he’s doing for them in Ottawa. However, it really only scratches the surface of the work MPs do for their ridings and portfolio.

It’s worth noting, most of Mr. Allison’s YouTube videos feature shots of him looking down at prepared speeches and notes. I suspect this is quite the juxtaposition from his door knocking and community event presence.

Mr. Allison is not particularly active on Twitter. Over the last year he’s issued 73 tweets, mostly announcements of meetings he’s about to attend, people he’s about to meet or speeches he’s about to deliver. Mr. Allison has attached images to a small number of his tweets.

He last posted to Facebook in September 2008 and Flickr in June 2013.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Post more videos of you confidently in action (as in, not looking down at notes). This should include footage of you in action in your constituency where people may recognize the events and themselves in the videos.
  • Twitter is not a wire service. Use it to communicate to, not at, your constituents and issue stakeholders.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Your four photos on Flickr tell a story, as does the absence of photos since June. Post more photos.

GRADE: D

Participation & Community

DeanAllison-FBpage

Put simply, there is no participation and no community. Mr. Allison’s Facebook page, being dormant since September 2008, has done little to energize a conversation. The 471 tweets (a small number) issued to, or mentioning, Mr. Allison’s Twitter handle over the last year have gone unacknowledged.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Twitter is a social medium. Despite the challenges is presents to nuanced communication, it needs to be used for more than pronouncements. Pay attention, acknowledge and respond to the chatter.
  • Photos are a great way to activate exchanges and engage audiences. Post photos from your point of view and initiate conversations based on your experiences and observations.
  • As a dormant outpost, your Facebook page is a liability. Given your approach to social media so far, I’d suggest your best bet is to shut it down rather than recommit yourself to it. Unless you plan to use it as part of a re-election campaign. In which case, you have a lot of work to do.

GRADE: F

Interruption (the bonus category)

This category is meant to acknowledge things MPs are doing particularly well, above and beyond what I would normally expect to see as part of my makeover evaluation. Mr. Allison’s digital ecosystem doesn’t qualify for a bonus grade.

GRADE: N/A

OVERALL GRADE: D-

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