Race for mayor: Candidates should be meeting, not tweeting voters

Outside the Boston Mayors office.  Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki
Outside the Boston Mayors office.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

The race to replace Mayor Thomas Menino is well underway in Boston – and on Twitter.

But in the world of politics, where the number of people on your side is everything, is the amount of your Twitter following as important as the amount of people you shake hands with?

Some political experts say no and cite Boston as the reason.

“Boston’s kind of different from the rest of the country. It’s kind of a small big city and you still have to use a lot of shoe leather to be successful,” said Thomas Whalen, a professor of social science at Boston University. “Mayor Tom Menino has proved that.”

Despite that, the expansive field of mayoral candidates are growing or creating their social media presence. Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley launched his Twitter profile the first week of April, right around the time he formally announced his bid.

“As a candidate for mayor of Boston I think it’s very conducive to getting my message out especially to a younger demographic living here in Boston who communicates very quickly and freely with social media,” said Conley, who added that he currently sends out all of the tweets himself. He had posted about 57 tweets as of Monday.

City Councilor John Connolly, who had posted about 750 tweets as of Monday, said using social media is a “critical” part of his campaign strategy.
“I don’t think the importance of face-to-face contact with voters will ever disappear, but this is an added dimension of campaigning that’s also essential,” he said.


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