'Facebook campaign': politicians expected to embrace social media for 2016 election
As the Australian public waits for the budget to be revealed, speculation has already begun that this federal election lead-up will be become known as the "Facebook campaign".
Politicians are becoming increasingly savvy in the art of social media and Andrea Carson, a lecturer in politics and media at the University of Melbourne, said they would all be exploiting it to the best of their ability.
But she said one noticeable issue was that many politicians treated social media as they would analogue media. This does not sit well with their new audience, who do not want to be lectured at, and who expect to be able to engage and enter into conversations with each other.
Dr Carson said all of her research indicated that this year Facebook would be the dominant forum for politicians.
"The Victorian election showed that for the first time, Facebook was a more popular platform to use than Twitter or personal websites," she said.
"And I think the attraction with Facebook is that it's a great way for politicians to reach difficult voters, particularly younger voters or those that are not all that engaged with the day-to-day political cycle.
"The other good thing about Facebook from a politician's point of view is that it has trust networks, it has a peer-to-peer network where people respond to their friends on Facebook.
"And if they are able to tap into that and put out their political communication, it's a way of being able to reach those hard-to-reach voters."
Public 'don't want to be lectured to across social media'
Many people remember Malcolm Turnbull's fondness for travelling on public transport, Dr Carson said, thanks to the countless selfies he takes as he does it.
"Or sending out a tweet showing that he's got a knowledge of how to use these platforms," she said.
"There is no surprise there; he did work in the media before he went into politics … he was also the communications minister."
Meanwhile, Dr Carson said Bill Shorten had fewer Facebook followers than Mr Turnbull.
She said one of the things the research found was that although many more politicians were using social media platforms, they were using it as they would analogue media.
"They are not fully taking on board the full capacity that social media offers," Dr Carson said.
"And one of the reasons why they might be taking this more broadcast approach and pushing messages out rather than engaging in conversation is that politicians want to stay on message and are also basically risk averse.
"If they start to engage with people, they are not quite sure how those conversations are going to turn out.
"And trolling is one of the reasons why they might also be a little more circumspect about engaging in conversations — if they end up with an avalanche of negative commentary coming back at them and derailing their key message."
Dr Carson said online success was all about the way politicians interacted with their audience.
"People will be turned off if they feel they are just having messages spoken or shouted at them rather than any listening practice going on, because social media allows for a richness of people to be able to engage and enter into conversation with each other," she said.
"They don't want to be lectured to across social media."
Facebook 'allows politicians into people's homes'
Dr Carson said each candidate had a page set up for them, as well as for their political party, where they could put out the latest policies.
"But they also try to find more entertaining angles such as jumping on the back of another cause, putting forward very sharable pictures," she said.
The aim, Dr Carson said, was for the politicians to project their character and values to give the public a sense of what they stand for.
"And Facebook is a very intimate medium that allows politicians to be able to get into people's homes, and be able to project some of those values and some of that character, and create some warmth about who they are," she said
Source: ABC News