Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rudd and Abbott Use Social Media For Election. 7 Things to Watch

We're off and running to the ballot box.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set 7 September as the date for Australians to go to the polls to choose a new government.

In the 2007 and 2010 elections social media was seen as something of a novelty. That makes 2013 Australia's first real social media poll because Australians are now terminally addicted to social through devices, phones, laptop and desktops.  In fact there has never been a more connected and potentially better informed electorate than today's voters.

Preparing for the upcoming battle the Labor Party recently hired three top American social media types who worked on the 2012 Obama campaign.  You'll recall that campaign set the gold standard for politics and social media.

So as we start the Election trail, how do the chief contenders rate on social media?

PM Rudd starts with a well established social media presence.   He's been in that space a long time. He has 1.3 million followers on Twitter and tweeted over 9500 times.  On Facebook he has almost 94 000 likes.  That's impressive, and the tone and level of his conversations on both platforms shows Rudd is comfortable with new media.

Mr Abbott starts the Election campaign with only 148 000 Twitter followers and 1350 tweets. His Facebook following of around 39 000 fans is almost one third of Rudd's numbers. In comparison Abbot's social conversations come across as more formal than Rudd's dialogue and at this stage Abbott does not show much online interaction with others. Still it is early days!

Interestingly both Labor and Liberal Parties have similar numbers of Youtube subscribers (around 3500 each).  This is likely to grow with many predicting Youtube will be where it all happens as the parties turn negative as they invariably do during Australian elections. 

Over the next five weeks it will interesting to see how both contenders adapt and adjust to social media.  

So keep a mouse ready and eye out to see how the two candidates use these new channels in their bids to win high office.  

Among the things that would indicate the candidates are serious about social, are their:
  • Frequency of using social media to get their Election messages out.
  • Level of interaction with followers and fans or do they stick with one way conversation?
  • Cross linking to others' commentary such as media and third party endorsements to portray credibility.
  • Ability to persuade voters to donate money or volunteer their time.
  • Use of imagery to bring emotion into messaging and cut through the clutter.
  • Willingness to bypass traditional media and use social to break news.
  • Capacity to inspire others to produce and share favourable content.

...and of course look out for novel or unusual online tactics as the campaign unfolds.
It is interesting times ahead.  So in the coming weeks check your screens for what could well be Australia's first social media election campaign.

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