39 going on 60? Manitoba Liberals’ social media approach out of touch

IMG_3427By Danielle Doiron, @dmdoiron

Like its opponents, the Manitoba Liberal Party says it’s focused on gaining the youth vote.

Initially, it looked like they had the best shot. At 39, Rana Bokhari is the youngest person to ever lead the party. Last month, the Grits held a student-centered “pep rally” at 411 Main, complete with DJs and drinking, but the party’s social media presence falls flat.

In a world where the average Canadian millennial spends six hours a day consuming digital media (according to a 2014 Ipsos Reid’s iSay panel of 1,122 online Canadians between 18 and 34), this just doesn’t make sense.

Rana, it’s time you act your age.

On Monday morning, Bokhari called out Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister for a supposedly outdated social media reference during a provincial leaders’ debate hosted by 680 CJOB.

Pallister mentioned young Manitobans are leaving the province and said one grandmother complained her grandchildren now only talk to her over Skype.

“Brian, I appreciate you talking about Skype. But in the 21st century, it’s Snapchat,” Bokhari quipped. Big words for someone whose party doesn’t even have an Instagram account.

Instead, somewhat surprisingly, traditionally older-focused PCs lead the way in social media engagement. Throughout Monday’s debate, the Tories tweeted out (evidently pre-generated) relevant photos, infographics and links. The NDP’s Twitter was just as active, minus the photos. The Liberals, however, simply retweeted comments from Bokhari’s personal account.

Bokhari needs to walk the walk if she wants to represent youth in this election. And as voters quickly pointed out – on social media – generation-shaming doesn’t work if you can’t back things up.

So how do the three main provincial parties compare across different social media platforms? Bokhari’s Liberals have the lowest follower and like counts across the two mainstream platforms the party maintains.

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Bokhari posts from her own Instagram account almost daily.  Her personal Twitter account  has almost 300 more followers than the Manitoba Liberal Party’s, and her Facebook page has 2,837 likes. If she can gain this kind of following, why can’t her party do the same?

There’s no denying many if not most of the over 226,000 eligible Manitoban voters under age 30 (according to the 2015 provincial population report) are on social media. Why miss out on the chance to engage with these voters you’re supposedly trying to target?

As someone who spends hours a day scrolling through Twitter and Instagram for work and pleasure, I can honestly say I wouldn’t pick out the Liberals’ few, text-heavy posts from the thousands on my newsfeed.

Maybe Bokhari should take her own advice and focus on Snapchat, because the Grits’ current social media strategy just isn’t working.

At the risk of sounding like another failed political campaign, Rana, you’re just not ready.

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