Social Media Tips from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
By Bradley Moseley-Williams, Senior Associate
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson uses social media tools and applications to reach citizens, engage in conversations and announce his schedule in advance of an official calendar. Unlike a lot of politicos, however, Watson also takes a personal interest in his social media presence and activity. Commenting that politicians have a right to speak out, Watson noted that he updates his own Twitter feed (trending now at just over 20,000 followers) and will occasionally actively engage with tweeple who reach out to him.
Watson—Ottawa’s engaged and engaging mayor since 2010—also stated that, like any other Twitter user, he does block some people and actively searches for some others to find out what issues are trending, and follow particular conversations.
Watson was the guest speaker at Third Tuesday meetup (#3TYOW) in Ottawa on Tuesday April 23rd where he discussed his social media use, answered questions from participants and joined in some good-natured speculation about his political future. (Hint: Readers can “reasonably assume” that he is going to run again in the next municipal election.)
Watson likes Twitter for its spontaneity, reach and brevity. Making his schedule public enables him to meet and interact with more people, as well as receive thoughts and comments from citizens who might otherwise not encounter the City of Ottawa’s busy top politician on his hectic daily schedule. To put his calendar in perspective, Watson attends approximately 2,000 events each year. Joking that he has been accused of “attending the opening of an envelope” Watson noted that both Twitter and Facebook bring him closer to people and enable him to promote some events, follow others and keep abreast of events in Canada’s capital city.
Three social media tips from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
- Join the conversation. Public issues are always popular on social media sites and Watson follows conversations that involve Ottawa carefully. If it happens in Ottawa and if it is reported on social media sites you can bet that the Mayor is paying attention.
- Make it personal. Nothing gets between the Mayor and his tweets! Watson prefers to keep his Twitter activity personal and while he often has his Facebook page updated by others, his Twitter account is a personal link between his office and the people he represents.
- Keep it friendly. Digital gun-slingers take note, the wild-west attitude of the social media landscape stops at City Hall. Watson blocks offensive messages and has no interest in entering into a war of tweets. He reaches out politely and responds to others who do likewise.