With less than 30 days until the September 7th election, I did what any other political outsider looking to get a better grasp of Aussie politics would do … I signed up to receive email correspondence from each of the four big parties. (Given my personal lean towards the effectiveness of twitter as a social platform, I also decided “to follow” each of them there as well. (Labor, Liberals, Nationals, and Greens)
As an expat working at the crossroads between social media and digital marketing, I signed up much more as an exercise in understanding how these parties were going to use email and social media in messaging to me, as opposed to a deep desire to understand the political differences of very different political systems.
Without fail, in just a few hours my inbox was pinged with well crafted, short, and pretty direct emails from each of the major parties outlining their positions, sharing their talking points, and reminding me that there’s limited time to make an impact.
The calls to action were simple – donate a few bucks, volunteer some time to make calls or knock on doors, or just share each respective party’s message of change. To be frank, this rather simple exercise yielded a pretty interesting finding: that the tactical deployment of email didn’t really differ substantially from party to party. And given that email still remains the single most effective driver of individual action, I thought to myself that the gap between parties in this very specific area wasn’t very wide.
Even those following politics in this country at the most cursory level are certain to have seen a pretty significant uptick in social media chatter regarding the Federal election during the past week. A quick search on twitter for the “AusElection2013”, just one of many hashtags linking together social conversations regarding the election, yields countless tweets from the socially active willing to share their opinion at any given moment.
While some tweets are directed specifically at Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott (or to their respective parties), others are more high level and just group together the themes that seemingly matter the most to Australians-i.e, the economy, immigration, the environment, etc.
This very transition to social marks an important shift in how politics is conducted in Australia as social media will continue to reshape the conversation, faster and more quickly than traditional avenues.
And as a quick cheat sheet in how I see the different platforms performing, I would argue the following:
Facebook – will be the hub where all political parties try to rally their most committed supporters and most loyal activists. Keep an eye on Facebook to see real opportunities for engagement offline.
Twitter – the quick and dirty way to get out facts, attack the opposition, rebut specific arguments, and generally seed very high level messages.
YouTube – perhaps the single most UNDERLEVERAGED resource in Aussie politics. There are countless ways in which to use YouTube effectively to energize supporters and spread your message through video (which is a very powerful medium in politics) … and I think both parties could do more here.
Instagram – well, Rudd and Labor definitely have a leg up here given that no one else is active. But Instagram is a clever and innovative platform to humanize a candidate and demonstrate that he’s just like any one else. And while the pic of him having nicked himself shaving had mixed reviews, I thought it was clever, spontaneous, authentic, and timely … exactly the message it wanted.