Winnipeg student group angles for young voters while politicians target youth with social media

With the federal election just days away, student groups are still angling to get young people to the polls, while the federal leaders’ campaign and spread their messages on social media during the election’s last legs.

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union was getting its members to pledge to vote in the election until Friday, as part of a nationwide campaign coordinated by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

“I think that being able to tap into different platforms and different ways of engaging like social media, through on-the-floor pledge drives and trying to combine them to get as many students as mobilized as possible is what we’ve really been doing,” said Sarah Bonner-Proulx, UMSU’s vice president for advocacy.

READ MORE: Winnipeg ridings to watch for this federal election

Meanwhile, some U of M students have taken notice of how the campaign is playing out online.

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Student Conner Odowda isn’t particularly engaged in politics, but he’s still seen politicians looking for the youth vote through social media platforms.

“I see a lot of engagement on social media from all the political parties whether it be on Instagram, Twitter,” Odowda said.

“Through social media, I can see it being very effective. Everywhere I go, Facebook ads, Instagram ads are showing up on my timelines,” student Jordan Cashton said.

Some politicians are leveraging social media more effectively than others — Cashton leans to the right politically but pointed to left-leaning parties as the most efficient at reaching young voters on online platforms.

READ MORE: NDP leader takes federal election to TikTok

“The NDP and the Liberals are really pushing it out,” Cashton said. “I know (NDP leader) Jagmeet (Singh) has a TikTok.”

TikTok is a video app — a recent video Singh shared racked up 1.3 million views — in a day.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has just over 297,000 likes on Facebook, approximately 194,100 followers on Twitter, and 56,600 on Instagram. Green Party leader Elizabeth May trails on Facebook with 109,000 likes, but has about 331,000 followers on Twitter. May has no official Instagram account.

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Odowda also sees Singh as the most effective social media campaigner, followed by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Another student, Brayden Alcantara, pointed to Singh’s social media as particularly effective.

“Regardless of who I’m voting for I’d say the NDP’s doing a really good job — Jagmeet Singh, his social media is crazy, right,” said Alcantara.