The campaign trail just ain't what it used to be.
Oh, sure, some things never go out of style - when it comes to getting your word out to voters, there will always be a place for pamphlet mail-outs, all-candidates meetings, newspaper ads and good old-fashioned door-knocking.
But let's face it. This is 2014, and there's a whole new virtual world out there when it comes to "meeting" and interacting with voters.
During the 2011 election campaign, we here at The Record took a look at who was hot and who was not in the then-new world of social media campaigning.
We've decided to reprise that endeavour this time around. But this time, instead of one final "report card" shortly before the election, our social media watcher - that is to say, me - will be keeping a regular eye on the world of Facebook, Twitter and the web, and reporting back in weekly blog and print instalments.
Here's my take on the social media scene as the first official week of the campaign winds up:
One thing's for certain: Compared to 2011, this election is definitely being powered by a stronger social media presence.
One week after the close of nominations, many New West candidates are proving themselves to be admirably savvy about Facebook, Twitter and the web in general.
A majority of the 38 candidates running for mayor, council and school board spots has at least some social media presence - although, as in all things, some are using it more effectively than others.
There are certainly a large number who still have some work to do as far as making an impact goes - you can spot several candidates new to Twitter by their small number of followers. They'll have to work hard to get those numbers up if they want to make any real impact on Twitter. (No matter how hard you try, your 14 followers probably aren't going to carry you to victory.)
Among the new-to-the-campaign-trail faces, there are a number of candidates who are working hard to make good use of Facebook, Twitter and the web already - Mike Folka, Mary Trentadue, Tej Kainth, Cort Ray Caldwell and Mark Gifford among them.
In my own utterly scientific personal impact study, here are my three "social media stars" for the week among the newcomers:
FIRST STAR - Kelly Slade-Kerr: She may be a new face on the scene, but this school board candidate isn't wasting any time making herself known to voters. She's got an active Twitter presence, @kellysladekerr, and clear, easy-to-find presence on Facebook - besides her personal profile, she also has a Kelly Slade-Kerr for New Westminster School Board page (www.facebook.com/ELECTKellySladeKerr). Plus, she's got a website, voteksk.ca, which very conveniently offers links back to her Twitter and Facebook profiles, and which provides good information about her, her campaign priorities and how to get involved in her campaign.
She gets bonus points from me for being both the first candidate to respond to my Twitter search for candidates (using the #elxnnw hashtag) and for being the first candidate out of the gate to proactively send a friend request to me on Facebook instead of waiting for me to find her.
This social media-savvy newbie shows every sign of being a go-getter out of the gate. Let's see if she has staying power.
SECOND STAR - David Brett: Another newcomer to the political scene (although no stranger to New West), this council candidate is another one who's making a strong social media statement up front. He has an active Twitter presence @davidhbrett, where he's currently one of the most active #elxnnw tweeters, and he has both a Facebook profile and a "Vote for Brett" page at www.facebook.com/voteforBrett. He also has a well-set-up and informative blog at davidhbrett.com.
Bonus points for joining in a conversation about social media on my own Facebook profile - and for not being shy about promoting himself!
Another go-getter out of the gate.
THIRD STAR - Patrick Johnstone: Anyone who's been following New West's social media scene knows that this involved New West resident is all over Twitter, and it's only to be expected that @PJNewWest is going to be a dominant force in the social media election discussions. He, too, has both a Facebook profile and a candidate page at www.facebook.com/PJNewWest, plus a good website at www.patrickjohnstone.ca dedicated to his campaign (along with his longstanding New Westminster In My Back Yard blog at nwimby.blogspot.ca).
He's always proven himself willing to engage (not to say "bait") those of opposing points of view, so I'm counting on his Twitter feed to provide the #elxnnw entertainment for all of us.
But it's not just the newcomers who are proving themselves social-media savvy.
Among those incumbents and those returning to the campaign trail, there are also a couple of standouts.
Not surprisingly, mayoral hopeful Jonathan X. Cote (@jonathanxcote) has it all covered with Twitter, Facebook and web (votecote.ca) - with the bonus that his website links to not only his Facebook and Twitter presences but to his presences on Instagram, YouTube and Linked-In as well.
(And, on an added, old-school note, he's the only candidate so far who has actually knocked on my door at home.)
Returning mayoral contender James Crosty (@Crostyca) is one of the most prolific #elxnnw tweeters, and he's also got a good web presence at www.crosty.ca and a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CROSTYca. (The downside to the latter is that if you search Facebook for "James Crosty," that page doesn't come up.)
Alongside these folks who are definitely doing it right, we have those who are virtually invisible.
Among the social media absentees so far: council candidates Jim Bell (also running for school board), Tracey Block, Heather Boersma, Calvin Donnelly, Matt Kadioglu, Gavin Palmer and school board candidate Rajiv Pandey.
So, because my life is not complete unless I can offer some unsolicited advice to someone, I offer up a few parting hints for the candidates who haven't gotten out there yet, or who might be on social media but not yet using it effectively.
* Make yourself easy to find: It's no good being on Facebook or Twitter if we - that is, the voters - can't find you. Which means that your profile needs to be set up in such a way that it's easy for anyone searching to tell that yes, indeed, you are the "Jane Doe" or "John Smith" who's running for council or school board. Give yourself a brief Twitter bio to that effect, and make sure your Facebook page settings allow people to see who you are. And if you don't want a whole bunch of strangers sending friend requests to your personal Facebook profile, then set yourself up a "Page" instead. It's easy, and it's well worth the small investment of time.
* Don't wait for us to come to you: Want to find interested, engaged New West voters? Then search Twitter using the #NewWest and #elxnnw hashtags and go figure out who the social media movers and shakers are. Get to know them, and find out what they're thinking and doing. Engage them in conversation and get a feel for what's on their minds. Then use that info to figure out what you need to be doing as a candidate.
* Don't tweet into a void: You may have a great Twitter presence, but it's no good if we can't find you. Use the hashtags #NewWest and #elxnnw (the lesser-used #NewWestVotes is also out there, but #elxnnw seems to have predominance at the moment) so anyone seeking election info will find you.
* Link all your web presences: Use your Twitter bio to steer people to your website. Use your website to direct people to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Use your Facebook to steer people back to Twitter and your website. It just makes sense - and, as someone searching for info, I find it annoying when a candidate website doesn't link me to their Facebook and Twitter profiles.
* Copy, copy, copy: Figure out who's doing it well, and borrow their ideas. As they say, all's fair in love and war - and really, politics is both, right?
So there you are. Let's see who rises to the occasion and proves themselves on social media next week.