I’ve long argued it’s a mistake to suggest online impact can be measured by follower count. Yet, many people unfamiliar with social media and digital culture rely on these numbers.

The media have been reporting on a site called SocialElection.ca which is hoping to identify a connection between Facebook “likes” and voting results. A CBC report on the site identifies the follower numbers for the party leaders.

The latest numbers look like this:

  • Michael Ignatieff 65,072
  • Jack Layton 55,957
  • Stephen Harper 52,673
  • Elizabeth May 10,529
  • Gilles Duceppe 8,120

A problem reveals itself when you consider these number in a larger context. For example, the Facebook Fan Page for Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau has 30,185 likes (putting him ahead of May and Duceppe) and Tony Clement, arguably one of the most popular “online” MPs of the 40th Parliament doesn’t even have a Facebook Fan Page.

Things get even more exciting when you cast a wider net (so to speak). Chambly-Borduas candidate Jean-François Mercier has 183,740 Facebook Fans… more than the top three leaders COMBINED (173,072). In fact, he’s so popular, his website is currently down because he’s exceeded the bandwidth limits of his Internet account.