The Revolution will be Socialised

Jul 22, 2010

The election media landscape has changed forever, the revolution will not be televised.

Gone are the days of one-way election communications, the traditional print and television campaigns of the major parties may have become larger, slicker and more targeted, but they are still functions of the throw it at the wall and see what sticks mentality.

Survivor, Masterchef, Australian Idol started the participation craving, the web and social media gave it a voice. We all want to be heard, to judge and to vote someone off this island. We want to sit on our couches watching news channels or political commentary shows, not talking to our (un)loved ones, but tweeting out live commentary to our new family, the masses. #justsayin

The next day watercooler conversation is dead, colleagues, friends and networks have already torn every issue apart, judge, jury and executioner. And shouldn’t it have always been this way?

If there ever was a time to gain an interest in politics, now is a veritable feast, with constant updates, 24hr news channels, multitudes of Twitter hashtags, facebook group, news alerts and content streams to keep anyone from feeling left out.

Some people are severely addicted to the constant news cycle, and take their role as seriously as Jim Waley, they are in charge of delivering the bulletin to their networks, their thoughts must be heard.

Who will be the first to be admitted to hospital for over engagement in election politics? Will rehab and detox for social media tweeple be coming to a clinic near you?

#endrant

So with the salivating public chained like a starving dog to a slipping stake, surely those on the campaign trail who crave our attention, are preparing to steak their claim on the social media landscape?

The two major parties must be anxious and chomping at the bit to utilise this crack-cocaine-like online medium to communicate directly and in real time with their constituents? To crowd source ideas, develop policy with the people, to create social media evangelists to tell the parties story on their behalf, etc. etc.

But alas, as with the progression of this yawnfest of an election, this online campaign is all show and no go.  “Moving Forward” and “Real Action” by both parties is like sticking a piece of chewing gum over the Deepwater Horizon oil well, not enough.

From the call of election till Sunday, the share of voice on social and mainstream media was dominated by Labor with 75% of conversations about Labor keywords, and only 25% for the Liberals.

TweetMP.com.au shows that 50 MP’s are now on twitter, a few with changes names (@KevinRuddPM has changed to @KRuddMP, and our Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts @PGwhalewatch having less of a whale of a time with @PGarrettMP).

Both parties have got all of the tools setup that they have been told they need to engage with the people, but they have all failed to step away from the broadcast communication mentality.

Both have active followers on both twitter and facebook, but no one with any authority is responding to their questions, posts or thoughts. The tools are just an extension of the party broadcast machine, social is just for show.

If the parties and politicians don’t get involved and spend much more time directly communicating with their online audience, giving up control of their message and becoming a part of the conversation, they risk being helpless to tell voters their thoughts on the key issues. They will miss the boat on the very basis of representation, being blind to the discussion that is going on around them, shaping the opinions of the nation, one tweet at a time.

Stuart Gillies, Digital and Production Manager, EMC