If people think that the importance of effective use of social media to political campaigns is overrated they should look closely at possibly the most successful political campaign of modern times: that of Barack Obama. Make no mistake - remove the social media element of Obama's campaign and he would still be the junior senator from Illinois. Social media didn't just help the Obama campaign, it was the lifeblood of it.
Of course it is theoretically possible that the senior campaign personnel in our Northern Ireland political outfits know better than the world class political operators that run American presidential campaigns but really, is it likely? I think they themselves would probably admit that there is a gulf in class which begs the question; why not learn from them?
Politicians the world over know that nothing beats a personal vote. People like to know who they're voting for and that doesn't mean name recognition. It means that people like to feel as if they know the person on a personal basis. For years the best way for politicians to achieve this has been the traditional canvass and indeed, it is still essential. However, tools like Facebook and Twitter allow you to do this at any time and with none of the negative aspects that doorstepping can bring. So why wouldn't you?
I have been trying to compile a comprehensive list of all candidates for the Assembly and Local Elections. That's not so hard a task but when I try to locate Twitter & Facebook ID's or campaign websites it's not so easy. For me this represents a lack of forward thinking, competence and organisation from campaign directors in Northern Ireland. This info should be prominent on the party websites. If candidates don't have these accounts why is there no question as to why not?
It frustrates me that another election will go by where a large group of voters who are crying out for engagement will be once again ignored because the politicians of the day refuse to adapt and learn.