Should Celia Wade-Brown be allowed to keep using @WellingtonMayor as her Twitter feed during the campaign? All mayors across the region jumped on Twitter to keep residents and ratepayers up to date in the aftermath of the weekend shakes – as they should, and while there were some weird updates, most used it well. But Celia Wade-Brown’s ‘@WellingtonMayor’ account does seem like a feature of holding the office of mayor, and therefore not an appropriate place to campaign from.
For central government, the sitting prime minister or other ministers cannot use their official channels for campaign material and are forced to walk a very structured line in this regard.
Wade-Brown previously had her own ‘@celiawbnz‘ account but a matter of weeks ago in June she tweeted that the account was now dormant and that people should follow her Mayoral feed. Which suggests that she intends to make use of the Mayoral Twitter rather than her personal account during the campaign.
In the UK, the use of mayoral vs campaign Twitter accounts was an issue for Boris Johnson. At first his campaign responded to criticism of his use of his ‘@MayorofLondon’ account by just changing the account name to @BorisJohnson, which of course had the potentially unfair advantage of just taking all his 250k Mayoral followers with him to his campaign account – which defeated the whole purpose.
In the end Boris was forced to back down and he had to use a new @BackBoris2012 account for the duration of the campaign.
While we are still finding our way with social media and working out how best to regulate it during campaigns, it probably does make sense for incumbents to follow London’s lead and switch to their own personal campaign accounts with no attachment to the Council itself.