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Kamloops News

ELECTIONS 2014: Online engagement falls short

Election signs are still a go-to campaign tool in Kamloops.


KAMLOOPS - Most city council candidates have a Facebook profile these days, but not all of them seem to know how to effectively use that tool or other online tools to campaign.

At least four candidates used GoFundMe pages to help raise money for their campaigns. One hit more than 75 per cent of his goal while another barely made 10 per cent of his goal. Two others barely squeezed out a couple of donations.

Incumbent Coun. Donovan Cavers took to the crowdfunding website in an effort to raise $1,500 online. A day before the election he sits at $1,065. Newcomer Peter Kerek had a loftier goal, $10,000, but has only garnered $2,510 with one day to go. Nearly $1,500 of that was actually offline donations that were later recorded online though. Candidates Daphane Nelson and Jenny Green, both part of the Vision Kamloops alliance, only received $100 and $125 through GoFundMe donations, well short of their $2,500 and $2,000 goals.

If you take a look even further into the campaigns for Kerek and Cavers, both used Facebook regularly, including the use of separate election-specific Facebook pages or groups. Kerek utilized a public page and posted to Facebook at least every other day, and to several different pages. At least once per week he shared his GoFundMe page as well.

Cavers used both an election-specific page and a private group for his supporters on Facebook. He posted regularly, but usually stuck with just a short commentary and photos. He only shared his GoFundMe page a few times over the course of the campaign.

Nelson and Green only shared their fundraising pages once or twice on their election-specific Facebook pages, even though they regularly posted and interacted on the pages.

Coun. Arjun Singh, also running for re-election, chose to go the way of crowdsourcing. Instead of asking for funds, he asked for input using an online survey. He too fell short of his goal when it came to this type of online engagement. Singh was hoping for 1,000 responses but had just under 200. He said he was still happy with the number of responses and felt it was a good representation of voters.

Of the other 27 candidates running for a council seat only 16 utilized an election-based Facebook page or group, but not all regularly interacted through them. Several candidates used their personal pages for regular, public posts though.

The lack of online engagement comes as little surprise, only three candidates have more than 400 followers. When there are more than 65,000 voters in Kamloops those online followers are barely a drop in the bucket.

Just because candidates have been making some use of online tools does not mean the old fashioned way of campaigning has gone out the door. Signs blanket the city (about four dozen at the corner of Hillside Drive and Notre Dame Drive alone), some candidates have gone door-knocking, flyers have been left on door steps and the die hards have been out waving to drivers during the early morning commute.

Kamloops Vote 50 came to the rescue of many candidates unsure of how to put themselves out there during this election. More than a dozen all-candidate events were organized by the group, with another handful organized by other community groups. Between these different events every candidate got the chance to get in front of more people than they appeared to interact with online.

General election day is Saturday, Nov. 15. Kamloops will elect one mayor, eight city councillors and five school trustees.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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