PM's day chronicled on Twitter

His cat, his lunch and a high five: All part of an effort to bolster the prime minister's social media presence

OTTAWA – It’s frequently high on the list of dos and don’ts when using social media: no one cares what you had for lunch.

Unless, perhaps, you’re the prime minister.

The people with their thumbs on the keyboard when it comes to Stephen Harper’s Twitter account used the first day of Parliament’s winter sitting Monday to provide an intimate look at how Harper spends his day.

The posts include a short video of Harper’s limo ride to work, complete with Canadian flags mounted on the hood; photos of breakfast with his cat Stanley by his side; and lunch at his desk that included fruit and a Diet Coke.

He even took requests, high-fiving fellow Conservative MP Michelle Rempel in the hall after she publicly hoped for such an encounter via her own Twitter account.

Monday’s behind-the-scenes look at Harper’s workday grind is the latest move by staff members to bolster and reshape the prime minister’s presence on social media. They refused to comment Monday on what’s behind a recent shift in his Twitter tone, but digital public affairs analyst Mark Blevis suggested that it could be about the next election.

“It’s clear the point is to help make the PM seem more like a ‘man of the people’ and to prime him as a relatable politician leading up to 2015,” Blevis said.

“Still, every little effort could contribute to success, particularly given (that) the centre and left are still rebuilding and Harper will have to compete against more adept online folks.”

Monday’s effort in particular was prompted by the common question of what a day in Harper’s life is like, said spokeswoman Julie Vaux.

“So we thought we’d use social media to show people what it’s like as we start this parliamentary session,” Vaux said.

All the posts on the micro-blogging site carried the hashtag “#dayinthelife,” a not-so-subtle nod to a song by the Beatles, known to be among Harper’s favourite bands. Harper’s day also included a call to Ontario-premier designate Kathleen Wynne, although the video clip contained no audio.

Whatever the motives behind Monday’s flurry of tweets, they provided a rare glimpse of a politician whose daily schedule is usually a closely guarded secret, especially on days when he has no public events planned.

Social media has forced a bit of a sea change, however. Photos of Harper with athletes and at restaurants now routinely circulate via his Twitter account and other social-media platforms.

Harper’s online presence began to display a marked shift in tone about four months ago, when messages with a decidedly personal, playful bent began to appear among the news-release headlines and official statements.

Among them, a reply to Justin Bieber’s decision to meet Harper clad in overalls and a baseball cap.

“In fairness to @justinbieber, I told him I would be wearing my overalls too,” read a message from the account just after Harper met the pop sensation in November. The message was re-tweeted nearly 10,000 times.

[View the story “PM Harper’s #dayinthelife” on Storify]