(The following article in no way endorses or encourages support for the political characters mentioned. As a matter of fact, anyone who knows me also knows my thoughts and opinions about our elected officials – they work for us and we need to keep reminding them of that.)

Politicians are always anxious to connect with the public. Either to garner votes, gather up campaign workers or grab some cash to cover their campaign expenses. Barrack Obama proved the value of social media in his bid to be the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party and then for his run for the top spot as President of the United States. Pressing the flesh by shaking hands and kissing babies at parking lot rallies still has value in getting the word out but social media allows politicians to connect with grass-roots community supporters. In today’s environment a political candidate ignoring the reach of social media is similar to when Nixon didn’t grasp the value of television and took a beating from Kennedy during the famous presidential debate broadcast on national TV networks in 1960.

The latest to jump into the social media pool is Gary Mar, a long-time politician from Alberta. Mar is running for the leadership spot of the Alberta PC party. Mar has been the first of the leadership candidates to step up to the social media plate swinging an iPad App. He isn’t the first politician in Alberta to use an iPhone App in a campaign though.  Naheed Nenshi attracted a lot of press coverage for his use of social media which included an iPhone App in the campaign for his current job as Mayor of Calgary Alberta.

The Gary Mar iPhone App works on an iPad but since it is designed for the smaller size of the Apple mobile phone it doesn’t use up the full screen on the tablet. The app integrates Mar’s various other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook along with access to his YouTube channel. Simple, clean and to the point, the app is well designed and works. A BlackBerry version of his app is also available. What stands out is the strong branding elements of the Gary Mar leadership campaign.

In case you haven’t picked up on this, politicians aren’t just people. They are products that need a strong brand presence and promotion just like cars, breakfast cereal or other goods.  Selling a politician to the public requires a marketing campaign every bit as focused and aggressive as any other product’s public messaging. Making use of social media and leveraging the reach of the online community makes sense for business so why not politicians.

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