There are many challenges to being an MP. Being online goes back a few years. Being engaged online is a more recent phenomenon. This means becoming more than just a media organization unto themselves. MPs also need to manage the relationship they have with their online audience including supporters, critics (and trolls) and spammers.

A look at Françcoise Boivin’s digital presence offers insight into all of these areas. Perhaps because she was once a radio host, perhaps because she has a good staff, or perhaps because she’s just a natural communicator, Ms. Boivin is doing many of the right things as an MP in the age of the participatory web.

Digital Ecosystem

FrancoiseBoivin-websiteFirst impressions are important. I must admit I wasn’t particularly moved by the dated look of Ms. Boivin’s website (English version). Typefaces and spacing conventions have changed a lot in the last three-to-five years. I’m a firm believer that the website should serve as the hub of an MP’s digital presence and project the image of a digital Parliamentary office. This site looks a little too amateur for that.

While her website has a clear link to her Facebook Personal Profile, hooks to other social media outposts are largely obscured or hidden. Her Twitter account is placed in an unusual spot (top left of page) in an unconvincing manner. Hooks to her Flickr and YouTube accounts are embedded within a prominently placed Photos and Videos section. That’s a circuitous way to get to those properties. Interactions with both components of her website are a bit clunky. Though her entire site works on mobile devices.

Ms. Boivin’s Facebook Profile and Twitter accounts are easily found on both sites. Both have distinguishable photos, descriptive info and links back to her website. The same cannot be said of YouTube or Flickr. Her YouTube channel is named ndpfan1 which wouldn’t be a problem if her name and photo were displayed and a description and link back to her website set for the account. Flickr also lacks descriptive info and a link.

As a side note, Ms. Boivin’s Facebook presence is built around a Personal Profile. This may have been a convenient way to get started. However, it’s not a particularly scalable solution as she may soon find out. Personal Profiles are restricted to 5,000 friends. Ms. Boivin is already at 4,750. Soon, people won’t be able to join her Facebook community. This means choosing to stay with that cap, converting her profile to a Fan Page or standing up a Fan Page and running parallel properties in tandem.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Update your YouTube and Flickr profiles to include a photo, description and a link back to your website.
  • Make your social media outposts easier to find on your website.
  • Adjust the spacing on your website to avoid distinct elements from being confused with others. The small screenshot in this post makes things look more suitably distributed than when the site is in full display on your screen.



What Ms. Boivin lacks in cohesion in her ecosystem, she makes up for in content. She comes across as a natural communicator willing to exploit the features of a variety of digital channels and seems to do well by her style — in both French and English.

Unlike other MPs I’ve assessed to date, Ms. Boivin uses YouTube for more than just QP and official/seasonal messages. Earlier this year she published a pre-Winter session update. She did something similar before the fall session during which she took the opportunity to thank her audience for the outpouring of support following the death of her younger sister (please accept my belated condolences). The best part of the updates is they’re clearly ‘unscripted.’ On the other hand, I could do without the 10-second opening flourish.

Ms. Boivin is also comfortable mixing partisan content with photos of events and activities in which she participates. She also shares content by others including cats (and the now-gone Parliament Hill cats), cows and a captioned photo of Barack Obama apparently chastising Prime Minister Harper. She clearly knows what kind of content gets attention.

Twitter is also an important channel to Ms. Boivin. She regularly updates her followers with partisan (sometimes very so) messages, links to relevant news pieces and shares quotes and announcements that clearly interest her (e.g. Hilary Clinton hitting the speaking circuit). She’s shared personal achievements such as quitting smoking when she was 39.

Flickr is the lost child, having not been updated since July.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Increase the frequency of your video updates.
  • Post your video updates to your Facebook Profile.
  • Make distinct YouTube video playlists for French and English videos to make it easier for language-specific audiences.


Participation & Community

Unfortunately, Ms. Bergen using a Personal Profile means I’m not able to use my cool Sysomos tools to analyze the nature of her Facebook community. A manual assessment clearly identified regular activity. Many (if not most) of her posts attract likes and comments, particularly any posts involving hockey. And, Ms. Boivin has been observed among the list of people participating in the ensuing conversations.

On Twitter, Ms. Boivin is among the more actively engaged MPs. Sysomos MAP helped me identify that 28% of 810 tweets she issued in the last six months were replies. During the same period, 579 users issued 1,192 tweets mentioning Ms. Boivin.


Like other MPs, Ms. Boivin uses Flickr and YouTube as broadcast channels.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Convert your existing Facebook Profile Page to a Fan Page before you hit the 5,000 friend limit.
  • Consider using Facebook as a way to poll your community, or engage with them to explore solutions to problems.
  • You have the benefit of being local to the area. Appeal to your online community by organizing a Tweetup.


Interruption (the bonus category)

FrancoiseBoivin-spamI need to acknowledge that Ms. Boivin is clearly “on top” of her Facebook community. When conducting analysis for this makeover on February 27, I came across a post featuring a suggestive photo and a link to sexy underwear to her Profile. It was spam posted to her Profile 20 minutes before I arrived and was gone a short time later.

This reinforces a few points.

Having a property is not enough. Just as MPs would do housekeeping on real properties (Parliamentary office, constituency office and home), it’s important they incorporate good housekeeping practices into their daily routines. Besides preventing embarrassing spam problems, it helps to respond to any hyper-partisanship (even supporters can require some diplomacy) and ad-hominem attacks.

It’s important to post a simple and clear community participation policy to help the people understand the conditions under which content will be removed and (if necessary) accounts will be blocked. MPs need to be proactive and productive. They may have to lean on staff to help monitor and respond to activity. This is another reason to have a Fan Page which can have multiple administrators to which activities can be delegated.



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

Analysis performed using Marketwire/Sysomos Heartbeat and MAP.