When Naheed Nenshi started his 2010 campaign to become the mayor of Calgary, he was the underdog, with early polls showing he had 8 percent of the votes. Yet, he believed in the power of social media and used it to fuel his grassroots campaign. Social media gave him a leg up and he earned 40 percent of the vote come election time; he was nearly 28,000 votes ahead of his second place opponent. The polls showed that he was highly favored by the younger voters, thanks to his social media strategies.
Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a Canadian city, and an innovator of social media — not only as an election tool but also now as a mayoral aide.
As of June 4th, 2012, Nenshi’s Twitter count is this: 9,577 tweets, 976 twitter users that he’s following, and 60,008 followers. To put things into perspective, Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas, Texas has 222 tweets, 246 users that he’s following and 974 followers. Dallas has approximately the same population as Calgary. Mayor Antonio Villariagios of Los Angeles, the second most populated city in the US, has 3,843 tweets, 8,010 users that he’s following and 46,313 followers. LA has almost three times the population of Calgary!
Mayor Nenshi skips the shameless (and endless) self-promotion to use Twitter as a useful way to connect with and help his city. Although not always politically correct, Nenshi is always honest and vocal. Here are some ways that Nenshi is using Twitter that have made him so successful:
Nenshi is helpful: He uses Twitter as a tool to speak directly to citizens, hear their complaints and answer their questions or direct them to someone who can
Nenshi answers silly tweets and engages in goofy conversations with his followers, which makes him seem approachable and likeable
Nenshi congratulates people on their achievements and wishes them happy birthday on their birthdays
Nenshi uses twitter as an open forum to discuss the town issues with the Calgary citizens, instead of shying away from them
Social media should be interactive, yet many public figures forget this. Instead of talking at the audience one should talk with them. Twitter can be a powerful tool, but only if used correctly.
Do you think politicians would have better image perception if they were as open on Twitter? Do you think Nenshi may have hurt his image by being too open on Twitter? Do you think an active Twitter campaign would affect opinion and outcome in the 2012 presidential election?
Follow Nenshi on Twitter at : @Nenshi
And don’t forget to Follow Mason on Twitter at: @Mason_Inc