There is an election coming up, but if you were relying on the social media channels to keep you informed, you would probably miss it, and that’s because I don’t see any of the parties involved really making an effort to pick up this low hanging fruit. Traditional media is still being used and why wouldn’t they, it has worked in the past and will probably continue to work in the future too, but we have some extra channels for this election, that we really weren’t using much of for the last election. Social media was perhaps a little too new last time around.
So what is the current status of the two main parties and a selection of the smaller ones? Take a look.
Phil Goff has a Facebook page with around 5500 fans and there are posts generally around once per day, so if you are a fan of Phil’s page, you may miss the one post that comes out, but what I do like about his page, is the live chat that he has been doing, where you have to assume that it is really Phil on the other end answering your questions live. The down side of this is that the last time he did a live chat was back in September, so some time ago, and I’m sure there are plenty of Labour supporters and non supporters who would like the chance to have a live chat on air with him during this campaign. To me this is a huge wasted opportunity. Set it up, publicise it and get on with it, come on Phil.
John Key’s Facebook page is looking a whole lot healthier with nearly 68,000 fans and around 5 postings of video, photos and articles posted up daily, so you would have a fair chance of catching some of that information he is sharing in your news feed. There are also several other pages within the Facebook page where you can find out more information on policies, news and subscribe to “Key Notes”, a fortnightly newsletter. There is also a really clear page policy to keep the page “family friendly” and any abusive or racist comments can be removed swiftly with offenders banned if need be.
John Key is also on Twitter with around 31,000 followers there, and as far as I could see, the only politician promoting his page on the latest platform, Google+.
What neither of these two front runners are doing on their Facebook pages or twitter feeds, is engaging in any conversation at all, it is all push, push, push. There simply is no dialogue from either leader, which is a shame when you think of the opportunities they are both missing. Perhaps they are both a little scared of what might happen if they delve in?
Take a look at the Green party, they are doing a better job. Even though they only have around 14000 fans, their page is full of extra useful information that really makes it easy for the visitor to navigate and find out what they want to know. With extra pages on child poverty, clean rivers, about the party, policy and then extra twitter and YouTube links too, there is plenty to read. They really have done a good job, and they DO engage with their fans. Ask a question or take part in a discussion, and someone from the Greens will respond somewhere during the thread. Very cool and well done the Greens.
Compare our politician’s efforts with Barack Obama who has more than 24 million Facebook fans. Now he really does have a community to connect with, and whilst Facebook fans are not the be all and end all, community supporters in a politicians case, have got to be a massive bonus.
There is even a shop for you to “get the T shirt” and a “Donate” button for you to give generously.
The rest of the parties really don’t have much of a presence at all and so are definitely missing a trick, not only for now, but for the future too. There isn’t even a page for United Future, although Peter Dunne does have a personal page if you want to be his friend.
There are about 1.7 million New Zealanders on Facebook, so a sizable chunk of the population and within that community, might like to interact with their politicians a little more, even if it’s just to get to know them a little better before the big election day. People buy from people they know like and trust, so even though the political parties are not selling anything, they are certainly hoping we will give our vote to them.
They could do so much with these channels and really get to know their voters if only they acted the same online as they do in person, by having a proper two-way conversation.
Come on guys, let’s see the real you, engage with us, show us what you stand for, keep it easy, and make me want to vote for you.