As we draw to a close for the presidential election on 30th October, I took the time to snoop the candidate’s Facebook pages…..it was like delving into the cookie jar ten minutes before eating dinner; irrisistable, risky and very tasty! # 1. Name: Michael D Higgins Fans: 4,195 First impressions: The typical dull, conservative, but safe profile pic and a welcoming message. Michael comes across as traditional/reliable, but slightly old school. Custom pages: A simple ‘Join Michael on Facebook’ page, a Twitter feed and Flikr feed. No bolstering of his ego or use of video. The wall: Strong interaction and plenty of updates. I felt a minor amount of trebidation when clicking on comments and expected to say some horrific stuff. Lots of positive comments and questions…that is until the comments on art works from some of Ireland’s leading contemporary Artists. Here we see Michael selling his artwork and a commenter not a happy bunny. Response? Nowhere to be seen. My view: Looks like the page is being used consistantly and that it is driving engagement and giving supporters a chance to follow his movements. On a negative note, any adverse comments are hanging around like undeleted voice messages with no follow up. Social media is a two-way street and those who take the time to comment, do expect a response in return. To avoid answering signals either a lack of interest, concern or an inability to answer the comment honestly. # 2. Name: Sean Gallagher Fans: 31,193 First impressions: Again, our dragon has the typical conservative profile, although there is something about Sean’s beckoning hand that inspires trust and openness. His message is lean, but effective “Let’s put our strengths to work” (stressing ‘our strengths’). Custom pages: By default, we see an ‘Online Canvas’. The wording obviously taken from ‘canvassing’and given a digital twist by adding ‘online’. The idea behind the message is to share a video. Nicely crafted icons for ‘events’ a ‘Twibbon’ and ‘Tweet’ are all in favour of following and supporting. Finally, a stream of Twitter updates to follow the current conversation. The wall: Interaction is extremely high with supporters quite vocal in their support. I found it interesting that supporters rallied against supporters for other candidates and declared Sean No1. My view: The supporters are driving the conversation here, instead of the page admin. They appear quite protective of Sean and have an admiration for even the tiniest of actions. Is one sour comment enough to unsweeten all the grapes? One pensioner stood out from the fan-list, as he enquired about the lack of support for pensioners when the medical card was taken away. After one hour of various updates, still no sign of a response to this one. # 3. Name: Martin McGuinness Fans: 8,693 First impressions: The ‘home’ tab shows a beaming face and positive message ‘The people’s president’. It’s bright, personal and likable. Scroll down, and you find plans for job creative from the ‘jobs ambassador’. Custom pages: Less customisation than other candidates, but perhaps more targeted and selective. A video feed termed ‘McGuiness TV’ with supporter videos and endorsements. Next, a Twitter feed, and then a u-stream live feed. The Wall: The updates are obviously written for ‘Martin’ as opposed to ‘by’. The tone was much more casual with plenty of decoration (exclaimation marks and …) The updates were positive and uplifting, but all commenters were left hanging, as no’one responded. My view: I’m not certain if Martin McGuiness likes his own face and adoration or if he feels that video is the best form of persuasion. He has been referred to a candidate with less support, so an emphasis on showing the support he does have may be part of the strategy to grow it. I am definately in favour of live videos giving real-time interaction. # 4. Name: David Norris Fans: 25,616 First impressions: David uses the emotional response ‘To believe in Somebody’. Although in my mind ‘to believe’ is proactive and strong. while ‘somebody’ is a bit vaugue and distant. Pink strikes me as an unusual choice for a male candidate. Donate appears to be everywhere. Custom pages: We default to the ‘To believe in somebody’ page with a prominent ‘donate now’ button. There’s a Twitter feed, a Youtube feed and donate now page, plus events and the usual welcome. Interestingly, I also noted a Page Guidelines page outlining was is acceptable conduct on the page. Is this a way of aviding negtive comments? Or jusitifible considering the nature of some comments? The Wall: Again, conversation is steered by fans with a fantasic use of media – apps, images, videos, Twitter #tags – all discussed on the wall.Of the 25,616 fans, only 1,557 are interacting, which is a fairly small percentage. There is also talk of merchdise; namely mugs. My View: I feel that the ‘Donate’ message is overpowering the page. While none of the pages mentioned can be termed ‘Switzerland’, social media by nature does encourage a gamut of opinions from cold to red hot. I hoped to see page editors proactivitily responding to good and bad alike, instead, even the most favoured are ignoring a great opportunity. Even questions and positive comments were left unanswered. The general vibe here in Ireland is gloomy. People are struggling to trust and believe in those who have a hand in the running of the country. I wonder myself if candiates are more drawn to the position of power and status; a figurehead if you will, than being hailed as someone who faces brings about positive change with the people in mind. I hope that our next President will be active in society and fight for us. Who gets your vote?