Why social media is important for the Green Party of Canada

I won’t write a blog post listing “Top 10 …” whatever reasons and advises, let me just focus on a single event that happened today. It was in the news since this morning, that the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May is not invited to participate in the TV debate of the leaders.

While at first this seems to be a fatal blow to a political campaign, not all is lost. We’re in 2011 and social media can still save the day, especially if it’s used in wisely. Let’s see how the Green Party is doing on the different social media platforms.


Although the press likes to talk more about Facebook and Twitter followers, at the end of the day it’s still the blog that is the corner stone of any social media campaign. On the Green Party website there is a section used for the blog, so there they have plus one (+1) from me. It’s not given though enough emphasis on the website. A website that is heavy on text and tight on images, let’s take for example the page presenting the message of the leader: at 579 words, it’s quite a long text. Would there have been a video with the same message, it would have been more digestible by people who are lazy to, or can’t read. (-1)

The blog gives me the feeling that I truly read her personal opinion, which is great (+1), but she could have taken this further with spicing up the posts with photos and videos (-1). Commenting on the posts is a complete failure. Anyone wanting to comment has to first register, accept a lengthy terms and condition text, go trough a Captcha (which is not accessible for visually impaired) and only than the comment can be posted. (-5)  The result is that there are really few comments on the posts. Would they have used a more open concept, without putting up all these barriers, commenting would have been much more fun. If they are afraid of trolls, well, there are other methods to fight them, they could have been using the Facebook username and password for comments, or less intrusive tools, such as Akismet.


I had to search a bit around to find the right page. First I was looking for the Green Party of Canada, page that exist, but seems to be neglected; all it has it’s some text copy-pasted from Wikipedia. Then I was looking for Elizabeth May, here I finally found a page that has more up to date stuff (+1), with more than 8000 fans (+1). Here is another tip I would give to the person in charge of this page: Facebook pages that have more than 25 fans can have a clean URL, meaning that instead of http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-May/20647428344 they could have changed the URL to http://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-May. Again it’s a small detail, but it can make a big difference, when it comes to printing the address on promotional materials. Until this is fixed, I have to give a minus one (-1). What is interesting to notice, the Facebook page, unlike the blog, is open and it’s thriving (+5).


She’s using two Twitter accounts, @ElizabethMay for her English tweets (812 Tweets | 4,232 Following | 15,332 Followers | 1,129 Listed) and @MayElizabeth for the French tweets (166 Tweets | 268 Following | 322 Followers | 41 Listed). While on the English account there is a lot of interaction and dialog going on (+1), the French account is purely a broadcasting tool (-1), I’m not sure about its value as a separate account.


Quite surprising, they actually have a YouTube channel (+1)! After visiting their website, I have a hard time believing there is a Green Party YouTube channel, but I could not find one video on their website (-1). Comments are open, but not too many views, no surprise if they keep this channel secret. Why there is no video section on the Facebook page (-1)?


I don’t want to comment if the Broadcast Consortium did the right thing, or they just shot themselves in their foot. It remains to see how the Green Party will be able to capitalize on all the buzz created by this news.

As the other Canadian political parties, they have a social media presence too, with some of their platforms more active than the others. What is missing, is a bit more creativity in using all these channels together. Mashups are not just fun ways of spicing up websites, but they are also important in sending out a strong message. Now it might be too late, the campaign has already started and social media is a long term investment.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa - Ukiyo-e by Katsushika Hokusai

Modern civilization shaking and melting in Japan

The Great Wave off Kanagawa - Ukiyo-e by Katsushika Hokusai

The Great Wave off Kanagawa - Ukiyo-e by Katsushika Hokusai

The extent of the damages, caused by the earthquake and tsunami, are slowly being revealed. As I’m writing these lines, the outcome of the Fukushima nuclear power plant failure is uncertain and there are less and less optimistic voices.

The reaction of the outside world to all these events is quite different compared to other recent events of this magnitude. Let’s just think back to the tsunami of December 2004, or the more recent earthquakes of Haiti and Chile.

The Canadian Red Cross has collected far less money for the Japanese disaster relief than during the Haiti quake. People are hesitant to donate, after all Japan is a rich country, a G7 member and it’s probably the best prepared nation to face earthquakes and tsunamis.

There is another factor too that can have a big impact on the donations the Red Cross or other NGOs are receiving, the media with is TV and photo cameras are covering differently this event. While in Haiti the news were filled with images of people in tents, even weeks after the quake every night the evening news was almost entirely all about the victims of the earthquake, the people.

In Japan, just few of the images are showing people, mostly focusing on the spectacular shots of the tsunami and the explosions at Fukushima. We won’t see women crying, kids screaming and men rioting, instead we are shown soldiers and rescue workers in uniforms working tirelessly to find survivors, clean up the mess or being busy to sacrifice their own health to cool down melting nuclear reactors. We’ll also see man in suits discussing in Vienna how to handle the PR coup the nuclear industry just got, or finance ministers trying to get back the market to green.

When I hear in the news that soldiers at Fukushima had to stop working because the levels of radiation is too high, I wonder where the technological miracle of Japan and the Western World in general is? To what good is to have robots able to play a violin or play soccer if during a nuclear crisis, human beings have to be sacrificed? Where are all the wonder robots, the transformers and remote controlled gadgets? Why can’t we leave music, painting and sports for to humans to do it? These are all activities that need soul, while going close to a melting reactor should be rather left to robots.

Why engineers have to work on building drones to kill people, instead of building tools to save lives? Imagine a drone that could be used for aerial firefighting, it could work non stop for days and could go to places you wouldn’t send anyone. I’m sure there are brilliant engineering minds that could come up with many other solutions to build a better World, why are they employed to do the wrong gadgets?

In Japan our entire civilization shook and now it’s melting, so don’t hesitate to do the right thing by helping.

Facebook comment plugin

Is the new Facebook comment plugin a game changer?

Facebook comment plugin

Facebook has created some waves this week when they announced their new plugin that enables users to leave comments on websites using their Facebook profile. TechCrunch not only jumped on the story, but they have also decided to give this new plugin a spin. The comments they got on their article are just as mixed, as my feelings about this new tool.


When you leave a comment on a website using this new plugin, you can decide to also post your comment on your wall, this way sharing the story and the comment with your friends. This is amazing news for smaller blogs that badly need more visibility, because just a single comment could potentially bring hundreds of clicks and the whole thing could go viral. I can see many websites jumping on this, especially once there will be an easy WordPress solution developed to just plug it in.

Promoting your blog will be harder

It is a basic rule of thumb for every blogger, that apart from writing their own blog to go and comment on other blogs. Some specialists even come up with magic formulas, about what the proportion should be between commenting and writing blog posts. The idea behind this was that if you would leave a smart comment on another blog, preferably in your own niche, than you could raise the interest of others to come and visit your blog, by clicking your name. Now, with this new plugin, your name is actually linking to your Facebook profile and not your blog.

The work around this would be to have a Facebook page created for your website and use that to leave comments. Suddenly my AdamSofineti.com Facebook page starts to make a lot more sense.


Often comments add a lot of value to a post, they bring a new perspective, add more pertinent information, while adding a bunch of yummy key-words for Google to chew on.

The impact this new plugin will have on SEO, is hard to predict, but clearly it is a risk that if I would be a huge website, I’m not sure I would take.

Civilizing effect

A friend of mine (website in Romanian), who is a popular blogger in Romania wrote a post about censoring comments. His blog was blessed with a troll, who was leaving really nasty comments, some of them being plain swearing, addressed at the members of his family. Of course he would delete the offensive messages, after all it’s his blog and he can decide about where is the limit that a commenter can’t pass.

I wonder, if would have he had access to use the Facebook commenting plugin, if that would had avoided the problem he run into?

Trolls are everywhere and behave the same way, no matter the language, they hide behind an anonymous username, with a picture that has nothing to do with them and spill their poison, because they have no better way of dealing with their person issues.

With this plugin it’s harder to have anonymity; commenters have to use their real name or information that could easily be traced back to them. Spamming and trolling blogs that use this plugin will be a lot harder.

It’s far from being a finished product

I left a couple of comments on the TechCrunch story, but they are buried somewhere among the more than 1300 comments. There is no way find them and see reactions to my comment.

It’s also missing the functionality to subscribe to the answers by email or RSS.

You like or you hate Facebook, you have to deal with the idea that they are big, very big and if you want to tap into the advantages their 600+ million users can bring to you, than you have to learn to compromise, in this case by giving up the ownership of your comments.

I tried to present here some of the advantages and disadvantages this commenting plugin would bring. Is it really a game changer or not, well, you tell me. Will you use it on your blog/website? Will you leave comments on websites that use it?