By September 24, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Digital Makeover: Carolyn Bennett

The latest edition of Peace, Order and Googleable Government, the reports on digital in Canadian politics, was released last week. It answers a few questions including whether MPs took advantage of the off-season to hone their digital chops, had their voice included in the chatter and, more specifically, if they were in sync with Canadians when it comes to the most important political issues as identified in #cdnpoli tweets. The report offers a few surprises. Of course, the full report offers more detail. But, the answers are some, yes and — surprisingly — yes. In that order.

The report also identifies the top 10 most active MPs on Twitter this past summer. The list is made up of five Conservatives, four Liberals and the lone Green. Denis Coderre topped the list (not surprising if you follow him). Second on the list is Carolyn Bennett, making Dr. Bennett the subject of this digital makeover.

I typically dissect MP’s digital ecosystems outpost-by-outpost. This week I’m going to approach things differently. I’m going to conduct the makeover in the following sections:

  • Digital Ecosystem
  • Content
  • Participation & Community
  • Interruption (the bonus category)

Digital Ecosystem

Dr. Bennett has a strong and connected digital ecosystem. It’s built around the hub-and-spoke model with her website at the hub (what I like to call the digital constituency office) and a selection of (in this case) and limited selection social media outposts functioning as focus-specific satellite offices. She’s gone with the typical choices: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Although, there’s no link to her YouTube channel from her main page. Keeping it small keeps it manageable.

All of her outposts feature a photo and description.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Link to YouTube channel, or at least embed a video library on website.
  • Be consistent in URLs (Facebook and YouTube link to CarolynBennett.ca, Twitter links to CarolynBennett.Liberal.ca)
  • Take advantage of Cover Photo available in Facebook Page.

GRADE: B+

Content

With four Internet properties, there’s a lot of content to be made to keep current. Dr. Bennett’s structure facilitates this through an obvious distribution of content styles: visual on YouTube, communication and community-building on Facebook, communication and engagement on Twitter and expanded communication on her website.

She has a great “online voice” which mixes the personal with the political. Over the summer her political content skewed toward aboriginal issues (particularly health) with inflections of a variety of other matters including the robocall scandal and the PM being booed by Blue Jays fans when he attended a game. In the last 30 days Dr. Bennett has issued 562 tweets and 16 Facebook wall posts. Her busiest day last week was the 20th when she issued 75 tweets including laments about HoC conduct, particularly from the NDP.

Dr. Bennett also uses the events features of her website and FB profile. My observation is most MPs either don’t keep events up to date or ignore the feature altogether.

YouTube has been silent for a while. The most recent video dates back to May 3 of this year. Content on this channel is essentially all official with clips from QP, official holiday messages and clips from town hall meetings. While these clips are important to constituents and stakeholders, the far more interesting clips of Dr. Bennett include one called Carolyn Bennett reveals what they don’t tell women MPs posted by user DancingWithOctopus. With 326 views, it has a larger audience than her own videos. As one of the most active tweeting MPs of the summer, BBQ season, there must have been many opportunities to augment the tweets with some fun and even work-related video.

Her blog is the lost sheep in her content mix. It’s empty.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Use YouTube to show action in the field. Dr. Bennett is a dynamic individual, something which translates well in video. There’s a great opportunity to be a mentor to women politicians-to-be, and young women in general.
  • Be consistent in URLs (Facebook and YouTube link to CarolynBennett.ca, Twitter links to CarolynBennett.Liberal.ca)
  • Remove blog link from website.

GRADE: B+

Participation & Community

This is where the real story is. Say what you will about how engaged Dr. Bennett is on Twitter — she issued 375 RTs (67%) and 75 replies (13%) in the last 30 days — Facebook is her major strength.

Dr. Bennett uses Facebook to great effect. She hosts scheduled online chats on her Fan Page. The hook here is she participates. The chats drive a fair bit of traffic. Dr. Bennett’s Fan Page has seen 119 new posts and 1,065 comments (including her own) over the last six month. That’s an average of 8.9 comments per wall post. That’s a rare number. But what’s anecdotally even more rare is the presence of the MP in the comment section of the post.

Dr. Bennett is demonstrating online tools aren’t just additional channels over which to shout. Social media are not diodes, they just seem like that because some people forgot the word social describes the media.

Three opportunities for improvement:

  • Keep doing what you’re doing.

GRADE: A

Interruption (the bonus category)

Interruption identifies something the MPs digital ecosystem does to catch the attention of visitors (or at least analysts). The concept of this category is there’s some staples in the digital world. Most MPs will have them even if they don’t use them. Some won’t have them at all. And others will have them plus more.

Dr. Bennett’s website boats a feature I have not yet seen on MP websites: a link for accessibility. Clicking on the link takes visitors to a page which will allow them to download a free assistive technology app for people with difficulty “moving a mouse or reading.”

GRADE: A

OVERALL GRADE: B+

Analysis performed using Marketwire/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.