OTTAWA - From controversial online ads to Snapchat, the campaign game has changed drastically since the last federal election.

While the leaders of the major federal parties are still using the traditional campaign tools, such as chartered buses and planes, they are also relying more than ever on social media to tout their leaders and party promises. 

Social media is also a cost-effective way of spreading a message during a long 78-day election campaign. 

Here’s a look at some of the new ways the leaders and parties are using various social media platforms to reach out to voters.


Short, snappy and impactful – that’s the aim of a tweet. Politicians have been using Twitter for years to share key messages, photos and video with supporters – all within 140 characters or less. 

But this election campaign saw a new use of Twitter by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, when he posted an unexpected ad on the platform. 

The video expressed his opposition to a tax on Netflix, YouTube and other digital streaming services. Harper quickly came under fire on Twitter for creating fears of a Netflix tax when the opposition parties had expressed no intentions of doing so.


Snapchat is a mobile application that allows users to take photos and short videos, known as “snaps,” and send them to a list of selected recipients. Users can also set a time limit on how long recipients can view their snaps for before they disappear into Snapchat’s servers, and add text and drawings to their snaps. 

So far, the Liberals are the only party that appears to be using the app. The party launched its “Liberal2015” Snapchat account Friday, almost two weeks into the election. The party posted its first Snapchat story on Friday, featuring a photo of a whiteboard with the number “65,” counting down the days to election day. 

Liberal snapchat


Instagram is a photo and video-sharing app, allowing users to post square-shaped images, resembling Polaroid pictures. Users can also put a filter on their photos to give them that distinctive vintage look.

All three major party leaders use Instagram, but Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has the largest following, at more than 10,000 followers. Trudeau’s official photographer Adam Scotti, who follows him just about everywhere, runs the account, posting the images he snaps of the leader on the campaign trail. The posts provide an artistic behind-the-scenes glimpse into Trudeau’s political life.


On the road to #Montreal. #elxn42 --- Sur la route vers Montréal. #polcan #cdnpoli #mtl

A photo posted by Justin Trudeau (@justinpjtrudeau) on


Vine is a video-sharing platform where users can post six-second videos that will play in a continuous loop. The videos can then be shared on other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. The mobile-friendly app is popular among younger users who record and post videos on their phones.

From the Toronto Pride Parade to pancake flipping, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair uses the platform to show a more personal side. Mulcair has more than 1,000 followers, while the NDP HQ vine account has just under that.

And it looks like the Liberal Party just started actively using Vine. It posted its first videos to the platform at the end of August, featuring a quick preview of the party’s “economic team.”

Harper has some 9,500 followers on Vine, but has not followed anyone back. The Conservative Party has nearly 200 and only follows four accounts, including Toronto-based political consultant Warren Kinsella. Neither account has posted any videos.


While the social network isn’t new, parties and leaders are leveraging it more than before to target voters.

Users might see a sponsored post inviting them to a local rally, or a video message from a party leader pitching a campaign promise. Trending political stories, often about the leaders and their policies, may also appear on users’ timeline. 

All the major parties and their leaders have active Facebook pages, where any Facebook user can post comments on their photos and videos. Here’s a breakdown of their Facebook presence: 

  • Trudeau – 261,285
  • Harper – 188, 572
  • Mulcair – 75,568
  • Conservative Party of Canada – 146,095
  • Liberal Party of Canada – 81,755
  • NDP – 79,641

CTV News will offer regular updates on Facebook trends during the election campaign.  Links to our earlier coverage: