I received an email from a faithful reader following yesterday’s digital makeover of Tony Clement. I’ll see if I can paraphrase one of the key points in the note.

Facebook over Google+? Are you mad?!

I’m embellishing the delivery a bit. Yet the point is very well taken. The data that can be gleaned from people who ‘Like’ and leave comments on a Facebook Fan Page is proverbial gold. You can gain a greater understanding of your self-identified audience and determine who is a constituent, who works for a stakeholder company/organization, who works for the media, and more. It is surprising to learn a politician would deny him or herself that level of understanding.

Then there’s data to be gleaned for anyone running a campaign of any sort — political, informational, advocacy, etc… Of course, you don’t need to have  Fan Page to gather that information. Anyone with a Facebook profile can identify a target demographic by playing with settings in the ad creation interface.

For the purpose of this post I investigated a few very basic campaigns to illustrate a few points.

Campaign number one would be to target Canadians of legal age who have identified themselves as having an interest in organ donation. I split genders because I expect the ad campaigns would be crafted for each demographic. Notice that women lead the target group.


I might consider doing an entirely separate campaign targetting the children who might be able to influence their parents to sign their organ donor cards. I found 7,640 people of both genders between 13 and 17 years of age who identify with the same interest in organ donation (as indicated in the above image). Interestingly, there are nearly as many of them as there are Canadian men 18 and over who identify the same interest.

Another demographic check I did was on politics. Specifically, I wanted to find out how many people in Ottawa identify as having an interest in politics.


It’s worth noting there are apparently 525,920 people on Facebook who identify as being based in Ottawa.

This level of data is NOT available in Google+. So, why would I suggest Minister Clement’s decision to go with Google+ rather than Facebook as a sound decision?

Data can help make a more targeted communicator; they won’t create a better communicator.

The data I’ve identified as being available in Facebook is amazingly valuable. However, there is as much to be said for a politician focusing on having positive (or at least productive) interactions online. A politician who can parlay strong networking and human skills into digital eye contact (as I like to call it) doesn’t necessarily need data to do what they do best. Data can help make a more targeted communicator; they won’t create a better communicator.

I believe Minister Clement’s strong suit is an innate understanding and ability to relate to his audience. I don’t believe he needs data to know who he’s talking to and what he needs to say because he’s already paying attention and participating. The fact the he chose Google+ over Facebook as his tool of choice further demonstrates Minister Clement knows the tools his stakeholder audience (opendata, opengovernment, etc…) are using. By using ONLY Google+ and not both Google+ and Facebook shows he wants to ensure he doesn’t spread himself too thin.

Of course, I haven’t spoken with Minister Clement about this. I’m hoping to arrange an interview with him which I will turn in to a podcast.