Was the New Brunswick election of 2010 the first election that made good use of social media?

No.

Social media (mainly Twitter and Facebook) were used, but they didn’t meet the expectations of the average voter who wanted to engage the candidates. The average voter wishes to be educated about the issues and interact with candidates by having them answer specific questions about the policies they are proposing. The technology to do this is here right now, we just aren’t using it properly. Some candidates did a great job at responding to questions on Twitter, however, most just used it as another broadcast medium.

One other problem with Twitter is the sheer amount of noise generated with the #nbvotes hashtag. Mostly partisan hackery, the noise made it difficult for people to follow active debates. Similar to a vuvuzela, each individual tweet wasn’t significant, but with hundreds of people tweeting and re-tweeting insignificant things, it became hard to hear the real conversation.

Some people could dismiss Twitter as a debating platform by claiming that 140 characters just isn’t enough for a proper debate, however, a candidate can provide a long-winded answer on a blog and reply to that user with the URL of the blog in the tweet.

The fact of the matter is that most of the candidates and parties have no interest in using social media properly. They prefer to do politics the old-fashioned way, with negative ads on TV and going door-to-door.