For the municipal election, the City of Markham wanted to maximize the opportunity to raise awareness of the election while increasing citizen engagement in local government.
Based on interviews conducted by Delvinia, we learned that most citizen do not engage with issues at the municipal level unless you really capture their attention with something buzzworthy.
With the goal of increasing voter participation, Delvinia designed a social media program that would be integrated into the overall communications strategy surrounding the election. The thrust of the strategy was to take a disarming approach to the issues presented, thereby increasing the likelihood of sharing. To ensure that the integrity of the election process was not compromised by social media activities, Delvinia also established a governance structure to clearly communicate policies and guidelines, and developed a triage plan and extensive training for those involved in managing the campaign.
The DIY Markham social media program used humorous online videos distributed through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to engage voters and increase awareness about the delivery of municipal services and the importance of voting at the local level. The easy-to-share videos depicted a world in which residents were responsible for their own municipal services—such as garbage removal and water treatment—and illustrated how, in the end, the easiest way to address these issues is to vote.
The municipal election provided an important example of how municipalities can integrate social media as an additional touch point into an overall integrated communications and marketing campaign for community engagement in an election context, all while maintaining the neutrality of the election office.
The use of social media channels also helped the municipality reach out to residents who might not otherwise have been engaged or interested in the election process. Overall, the DIY Markham Facebook page received more than 3,300 views and of the 17,231 Markham electors who registered to vote electronically, 10,597 used the Internet to cast their ballots.
The award-winning DIY Markham program left the City with the foundational tools to use social media in an election and a clear triage plan in place for dealing with inappropriate content. With Delvinia’s support and expertise, the Town of Markham has indeed become a leader in eDemocracy in Canada.