An inside look at Canadian mayors on Twitter

By Jennifer Hollett
Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Twitter has become a key engagement tool for thousands of politicians across Canada. Nowhere is this more apparent than in municipal politics where we see Canadian mayors using Twitter to make announcements, connect with constituents and interact with fellow politicians and stakeholders.

Our team here at Twitter Canada recently took a look at the Twitter accounts for mayors from Canada’s 25 largest municipalities; data was collected on February 6, 2017. Based on this sample size, here are some metrics of the average Canadian mayor on Twitter:

  • 61,000 followers
  • 1,800 accounts followed
  • 5,4000 Tweets sent
  • 1,900 Tweets liked

Here are the top 10 Canadian mayors with the most Twitter followers:

  1. Naheed Nenshi, Calgary (@Nenshi)
  2. Denis Coderre, Montreal (@DenisCoderre)
  3. John Tory, Toronto (@JohnTory)
  4. Don Iveson, Edmonton (@doniveson)
  5. Jim Watson, Ottawa (@JimWatsonOttawa)
  6. Gregor Robertson, Vancouver (@mayorgregor)
  7. Brian Bowman, Winnipeg (@mayor_bowman)
  8. Mike Savage, Halifax (@MikeSavageHFX)
  9. Bonnie Crombie, Mississauga (@BonnieCrombie)
  10. Berry Vrbanovic, Kitchener (@berryonline)

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre (@deniscoderre) follows the most people of the 25 mayors sampled, with over 4,800 accounts followed. Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman (@Mayor_Bowman) and Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic (@berryonline) are second and third on this list following 4,500 and 4,400 people, respectively.

With more than 72,000 Tweets sent, Ottawa mayor Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) is the most active Canadian mayor on Twitter. Mayor Nenshi of Calgary follows with more than 52,000 Tweets, while Montreal mayor Denis Coderre (@deniscoderre) has sent over 46,000 Tweets.

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson (@MayorGregor) is an early adopter. He was the first of the 25 mayors sampled to join Twitter, having joined back in September 2008.

When you look at most Twitter mentions, the data tells another story. Toronto mayor John Tory is Canada’s most mentioned mayor on Twitter and by a wide margin. In the past 12 months, Mayor Tory has 90 per cent more mentions of his Twitter account than the second most discussed mayor, Naheed Nenshi.

Here is a list of the top 10 Canadian mayors with the most Twitter account mentions between February 2016 and February 2017:

  1. John Tory, Toronto (@JohnTory)
  2. Naheed Nenshi, Calgary (@Nenshi)
  3. Denis Coderre, Montreal (@DenisCoderre)
  4. Jim Watson, Ottawa (@JimWatsonOttawa)
  5. Don Iveson, Edmonton (@doniveson)
  6. Gregor Robertson, Vancouver (@mayorgregor)
  7. Brian Bowman, Winnipeg (@mayor_bowman)
  8. Bonnie Crombie, Mississauga (@BonnieCrombie)
  9. Fred Eisenberger, Hamilton (@fredeisenbeger)
  10. Mike Savage, Halifax (@MikeSavageHFX)

Reaching office has also provided a strong boost to the Twitter audience of Canada’s most recently elected mayor. Saskatoon mayor Charlie Clark (@charlieclarkyxe) has gained more than 40 per cent of his Twitter followers since he won his first term in office on election night in October 2016.

A re-election can also spike one’s Twitter audience, as was the case with Halifax mayor Mike Savage (@MikeSavageHFX). He has gained close to 10,000 Twitter followers since he was re-elected on October 15, 2016. Even long serving mayors see their Twitter followings rise while in office. Mayor Watson of Ottawa became the fifth Canadian mayor to reach 100,000 followers in late 2016 and in the past 12 months alone, he has gained just under 40,000 followers, broadening his audience and reaching more people across Ottawa in the process.

Outside Canada’s top 25 largest municipalities, many other city leaders are using Twitter in new and unique ways. As shown above, Waterloo mayor Dave Jaworsky (@DaveJaworsky) takes advantage of GIFs and other rich media on the platform while Whitby mayor Don Mitchell (@_donmitchell) actively shares policy content and his personal email via Twitter, deepening that connection with constituents. Canadian mayors like Colin Basran (@Basran) have also used Twitter to conduct their own Q+As, answering questions from their audiences in real-time.

With thousands of mayors across the country actively using Twitter on a daily basis, look for more Canadians turning to Twitter this year as a direct source of local news and views in their communities.