By May 8, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Digital Makeover: James Rajotte

The irony of the much debated value of one’s Klout score (a measure of one’s degree of online influence) is you don’t have to be particurly active or influential online to earn a good score. Charlie Sheen, for example, earned a substantial Klout score the very night he joined Twitter. After only a single tweet. People started following him to watch his train wreck unfold propelling him to online superstar status before doing anything.

The subject of today’s digital makeover is not particularly active in social media. And yet, his Klout score may benefit from a recent surge in mentions as the public took to mentioning his Twitter account in an online bid to raise awareness of Bill C-60 and save the CBC from potentially debilitating cuts.

The subject of this week’s (two-day late) makeover is MP James Rajotte.

Digital Ecosystem

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There certainly is a lot of text on the main page of MP James Rajotte’s website. That was my first thought. It’s definitely good to offer valuable information. However, I believe the web has made us a lot more finicky when it comes to the volume of information we face and the way it’s presented. Remember, what you think is important for people to know isn’t always what people want to know. The size of the the text on his site only serves to overwhelm unsuspecting visitors.

Otherwise, Mr. Rajotte’s website is generally clean and easy to look at. Important identifying information is front and centre including contact information.

The site has a decent if selective photo gallery, and includes embedded YouTube videos and some audio recordings of a radio show Mr. Rajotte apparently hosted. The audio conversations are interesting and energetic even if they predate the last election.

Links to his digital outposts — social media sites such as his Facebook Fan Page and Twitter stream – are essentially buried. They can be found contributing to the visual clutter in the lower half of the main page of his site. His YouTube channel isn’t as easy to find. You can wind your way there by clicking on the YouTube link on one of his videos while it’s playing. That’s fair treatment since his YouTube channel doesn’t link back to (or even mention) his main website. You won’t find links to his outposts anywhere else on his site; certainly not in a consistent manner.

Mr. Rajotte’s Fan Page and Twitter profile are well constructed. They each have a good profile photo, bio and both link back to his website. YouTube has a photo and bio though no link back to his site as already noted. Instead, it links to his Google+ page (he may not realize he has this) which has a profile photo and boasts two videos. There is no bio.

His old “buddlem” YouTube Channel with 17 videos dating spanning March 2010 through March 2011 is still online.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Restructure the main page of your website using the principle of “less is more.”
  • Feature your social media properties more prominently on your website. Place linked icons in a consistent spot throughout your site.
  • Link your YouTube channel to your website and dump Google+ (I don’t think you’ll be using that effectively at this time).

GRADE: C+

Content

Mr. Rajotte produces a respectable amount of content for his various sites. His YouTube channel is among the more frequently updated I’ve seen among MPs (20 videos spanning December 2011 to April 2013) and he updates Facebook and Twitter often enough that I consider them both to be current/active properties.

His tone is generally pretty good and he has a well-curated body of photos on his Facebook Fan Page. Unfortunately, those photos are not accessible to those who aren’t on Facebook. He has shared a few photos and videos on Twitter, though those have a very short shelf life.

Back to YouTube, Mr. Rajotte’s videos are largely a mix of QP and televisions appearances, and official statements. Among the latter, his Passover video stands out for overreaching — where most of his holiday wish videos simply and directly spread good cheer, this one comes across as trying too hard to showcase scripted knowledge of the religious elements of Passover to the point that I gave up waiting for a positive message and stopped watching the video.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • For your recorded statement videos… be brief, be brilliant, be gone. It’s kind of like the “less is more” suggestion above. And because we’re talking about social media, be relatable, too.
  • Look for ways to post photos in a more public space, like your website.
  • Write less formally on Twitter and especially Facebook (e.g. “I’m” instead of “I am”).

GRADE: B-

Participation & Community

This is unknown territory for Mr. Rajotte — both as a host and potential participant. That is, despite having respectable followings on Twitter and Facebook, his updates are largely met with crickets. He’s also one of the least active responders on Twitter. In the last six months he’s issued only 11 reply tweets, a paltry 6% of the 179 he’s put out. And because the public isn’t responding to his Facebook updates, there’s nothing for Mr. Rajotte to pipe in on. Don’t believe people who say “if you built it, they will come.” It’s up to you to determine the fate of your community.

That’s not to say people aren’t trying to engage with him. Mr. Rajotte was the subject of 1,410 tweets issued by 1,368 tweeters over the last few days as concerned members of the public appealed to him and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to save the CBC. Mr. Rajotte did not respond over Twitter, something I’m certain people were generally disappointed by. On the other hand, responding might have further inflamed the movement. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. Given his general absence from the chatter and under the circumstances, staying dark was probably the best move. I might suggest otherwise if he had more online credibility.

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Word cloud of “save the CBC” tweets and a trend graph of tweets mentioning @JamesRajotte

Otherwise, 337 people issued 660 tweets mentioning Mr. Rajotte over the last six months. Those tweets highlight a mix of themes including Edmonton and the riding of Leduc, and appearances by Mr. Rajotte on CTV’s Power Play which include discussions about Employment Insurance cuts, decorum in the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Give people a reason to engage with you productively if not positively. Pose questions. Conduct polls. Solicit input. Don’t let your network stagnate or they’ll forget you. Especially with the way Facebook newsfeeds work now.
  • Build social media credibility by slowly becoming more active in the ongoing dialog. Start where it’s safe.
  • Feature people from your constituency in a way that kicks off a conversation. Social media is about people, people, people.

GRADE: D-

Interruption (the bonus category)

This may sound like I’m reaching for something nice to say… Mr. Rajotte’s search setup is great. He’s not the only MP to have search integrated into his site. However, not all MPs make search easy to find (to be funny — they make you search for the search box). More to the point, the volume of text on Mr. Rajotte’s site necessitates a good search function in an obvious place. He got both right.

GRADE: B

OVERALL GRADE: C-

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.