The Conservative Party Convention in Vancouver last week was anything but conventional. Between a rapping Member of Parliament to an appearance from the Conservative Grim Reaper, there was a veritable smorgasbord of antics for the media to report on.
Perhaps the most notable was the derailing of #thankyoustephenharper, a twitter hashtag meant to honour the former Prime Minister and promote his achievements.
But instead of honouring him, critics appropriated the hashtag to criticize his time in government. You might hope the Conservatives would have learned about not surrendering their brand from other failed Twitter campaigns, or even their own Instagram ad mishap last fall.
They‘ve instead rehashed (#punintended) the same play that drew so much ire from Canadians on Instagram before the election, once again to the detriment of their social media presence.
While the hashtag was initially promoted by those wishing Mr. Harper well, by the morning of May 27 it was clear that his critics were driving a majority of the conversation. And after analyzing a sample of nearly 500 tweets from that morning onwards, MediaMiser used its media monitoring and analysis software to show just how far the campaign warped from its original intentions.
Note the variations in spelling (more on this later):
Most tweets we analyzed were overwhelmingly negative. From sarcastic comments and outright criticism, to sharing articles about the hijack itself, the publicity generated probably isn’t what the Conservatives had in mind.
The rebuffs weren’t even limited to supporters of opposing parties, either, as even some self-identifying conservatives joined in on lampooning the former Prime Minister:
— Curtis Waters (@Th3VillageIdiot) May 28, 2016
Interestingly, a majority of tweeters couldn’t seem to correctly spell the name of the man who governed Canada for nearly a decade. Fifty-five percent of tweets incorrectly used the hashtag #thankyoustevenharper (surely to the disdain of people named Stephen everywhere).
Even more interestingly, the misspelled tweets had a slightly higher proportion of positive or supportive tweets for the Prime Minister, with around five per cent more expressing positive views of his tenure when compared to tweets with the correct spelling.
Take away what you will from that last point, but definitely remember when trying to engage audiences on social media: you can write the message, but you can’t always choose the messengers.