Almost a month has passed since the elections, and I think it’s time to evaluate and see how well the ‘web warriors‘ did in the elections. But before we do that, I just wanted to highlight some of the other tools used for election campaigns and on voting day.
Since political ads are not aired on local TV (for a number of different reasons), many political societies and some independant candidates turned to YouTube to convey their messages to their voters. Most were either cringeworthy or Windows Movie Maker disasters and I apologize for raping your eyes during the next videos
Al-Minbar Al-Taqadomi Al-Demoqrati
Independent Isa Salmeen
Most of the videos above did not reach any big audiences mostly averaging around 100-150 views only. On the other hand the biggest and best YouTube campaign was Waad’s series of ads, recorded speeches and seminars. The most daring and meaningful of the ads was this one, discussing the allegations of military personnel being ordered to vote for “government friendly” candidates and encouraging them to follow “their own will, not the will of others”
SMS: Settled Massive Scores
We did mention SMS text messages before as a means of campaigning and of spreading rumours against rival candidates. In 2010 the campaigns were as ferocious and many people bemoaned the “spamminess” of such text messages. This was especially true in the second round of voting and in particular the Central 8th district (Ali Zayed vs Dr. Abdulatif Al-Shaikh) where both camps bombarded voters with almost hourly SMS messages to encourage them to vote and even offer transportation to and from the polling stations.
In an interesting turn of events, the Shia voters despite not favouring any of the candidates, were compelled to vote against the former MP after a falling out in regards to a housing project between four towns in his district. They sent out mass SMS messages to many voters to vote against Al-Shaikh which eventually led to him losing his seat to Ali Zayed.
..And now on to The Losers
1. Former MP Sami Al-Buhairi
We highlighted him as one of the biggest winners in using social media but unfortunately he lost by a very substantial margin. His friends list on Facebook now hovers around 900 friends whereas in the polling he only received 300 votes!
His biggest flaw was his lack of FOCUS in attracting his voters. It seems that he did not consider the age of his FB friends nor their eligibility to vote nor where they actually lived . Moral of the story: Randomly adding friends on Facebook doesn’t win you votes.
2. MP Isa Al-Kooheji
“But he won the election!” Yes, he did but his web strategy was very flawed and hardly played a role in him winning the election. I admire his use of WordPress, YouTube and Flickr but they only were used as archives of him opening his campaign tent and celebrating his win, very few of the blog posts talked about his program and were more focused on quashing rumours surrounding him.
His Facebook profile was the same, an archive of his campaign ads and events and nothing about his program. But his biggest flaw is not ENGAGING with his FB friends/ potential voters as no one can post anything on his Facebook wall almost as if putting a ‘wall’ between him and his friends and not giving an opportunity for people to discuss and share ideas with him.
Moral of the story: If you’re going to use social media, ENGAGE with your audience and be part of the conversation.
3. Most losing candidates
Many candidates knew that Facebook is very popular so they decided to start Facebook groups (or let their children do it for them) then add a few friends (usually the children’s friends whom are usually not eligible to vote) and hardly update their profile thus making it a waste of time and meaningless. The smallest candidate group I saw only had 29 members and I couldn’t find it anywhere (deleted?)
Moral of the story: GRAB ATTENTION by actively adding content on the Facebook Page or Group and inviting more friends to spread word of mouth.
..And the winners are
1. Municipality Council member (MCM) Fatima Salman
I must admit, she didn’t really use Social Media in her election campaign but she has a promising start in engaging with her Facebook friends as a council member by posting news links and images of her visits around her district and highlighting some of the problems the community are facing including lack of trash containers and poor lighting on streets and public parks and playgrounds etc.
Her friends are also able to post on her wall and share their thoughts and questions.
I honestly don’t know if she actually adds the content herself or has someone to do that for her, it’s still a good sign and I hope she gets better at connecting with her community via social media in the future.
Despite not winning any seats, Social media played a big role in their campaign and learned a lot from Obama’s infamous presidential campaign. Like Obama, Waad’s tech savvy approach related well with younger voters and Bahrainis in general with the incredible amount of rich content being added on a daily basis on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Waad also increased their dependancy on social networks, after their newsletter was stopped for allegedly break the publication laws in Bahrain two months before the election, and used them to circulate their election program and kickstart the Nationalist movement in Bahrain once again.
The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker is a great guide on how to use social media for social change, and one of the main ‘formulas’ she discusses is FOCUS + GET and Waad ticked all those boxes:
- FOCUS: They focused on specific target groups during their campaign such as young voters and military personnel by creating specific content aimed at them.
- GRAB ATTENTION: The quality of the daily updated materials became viral both on Facebook and Twitter thus helping them gain over 4,500 friends and fans between their candidates
- ENGAGE: Creating discussions through content and status updates.
- TAKE ACTION: Like the previous video aimed at military personnel to vote freely rather than simply following orders.
Waad’s General Secretary Ebrahim Sharif has praised this campaign as a victory in expanding their supporter base especially with the younger generations and I think this video really says it all