Australian Election 2.0

22 August 2010

Julia Gillard tweets on her iPad Much has been said about social media and the Australian election, with talk of missed opportunities and a failure to engage. As a social media advocate, I welcome any opportunity to discuss how we can shift from paid to earned media where possible. As a social media marketer, I disagree with a lot of the advice projected at our political parties. As we are more than likely to be going through this entire process sooner than we’d like, I thought I’d outline some of the challenges and opportunities I feel are facing our campaigners (and maybe your business).

Where’s your audience?

With only a month between meeting with the Governor-General and polling day, the parties must concentrate their energy and money on a very specific target market. This audience is probably not found amongst the members of the official party Facebook pages who have already pledged their allegiance.  With 13m enrolled voters in Australia and 8m Australian Facebook users over the age of 18, the social network still offers an amazing opportunity to connect with the population. I’d suggest alternative ways to reach users who are not likely to ‘Like’ their branded page including hypertargeted advertising, Open Graph integration with owned websites and the creation of good content that motivates users to pass it on.

Filter the noise

It seems we no longer subscribe to the old adage to never talk religion, politics or money. With 8% of voters on Twitter, there was enough discussion on election day to secure 7 out of 10 worldwide trending topics. However should we expect anyone to filter through hundreds of thousands of hung parliament jokes and snide remarks regarding rangas and budgie smugglers to find the odd genuine question and respond in the name of engagement? There are teams of full-time staff responsible for similar tasks at Telstra, Optus and Vodafone! Consider how you can leverage a large audience instead of trying to take them on one by one. It would have been great to see the leaders poll Twitter users on what topics they should prioritise across their debates, appearances or press conferences or use voting tools to ask Twitter users to give feedback on  their day’s performance.

Quality not quantity

In this election I would have been more than happy for the candidates to spend more time clarifying their policies and demonstrating leadership skills then making YouTube videos sledging their opposition. Unfortunately it was left to the political commentators, advocates and satirists to create quality content during the campaign. GetUp! produces their own ads and requests donations from their supporter base to fund the advertising costs. While SMH reported that unions were bankrolling the ads, 100,000 individuals also contributed to ensuring the message was broadcast across the nation. If all campaign ads were put to this test I think we’d be enjoying a much quieter election season.

Integration FTW

FTW – that’s “for the win” in interwebz speak. The ABC does this so well with Q and A – taking questions from the live audience, those writing/emailing/skyping in from home, publishing tweets across the bottom of the screen. Their actual Twitter account is secondary to the purpose of cultivating and aggregating opinions and responses, before, during and after the show. Be strategic in your approach and integration will be organic as social media and digital communications are used to strengthen your campaign instead of riding a bandwagon.

So until next time (sigh!), here’s a few things that caught my eye over this manic campaign period. Enjoy!

LegoElection – Tony’s Boatphone

Hitler learns of the result of Australia’s 2010 federal election (Confused? Know your meme!)

Make your own Tony Abbott posters

Campaign Pulse – ABC’s online election aggregator

Snagvotes – tracking polling booth sausage sizzles across the nation

Don’t trust the Climate Change Elephant

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