Highlights & Low Lights In Politics – Online Of Course

As an election draws near the political discussions, debates and even slagging has already began as this is hotting up to be one of the more interesting elections of my time. Mining tax, emissions trading scheme, growing population, paid maternity leave and the general state of the economy has the pollies battling it out for the publics vote – but who is making most of the online opportunity? In 2007 Kevin Rudd utilised online mediums to connect with the public, but with every vote looking like it is going to count just what are political parties doing online – and what are they not doing. Below is the highlights and low lights that I see from our Aussie pollies.

Low Light – Search Engine No Show

Search Engine MarketingWhilst KRudd and Tony Abbott are building their social presence, the absence of strong search rankings is an obvious flaw in their online political push. The sheer volume of searches surrounding the main contentious topics is significant – yet neither of the Liberal / Labour websites are to be seen within the top 10 results for many search terms related to contentious issues. With real time search, news search and traditional search there is a significant opportunity for either party to take the SERPs by the balls and use it as a key channel to educate the general public on their stance on the big issues.

Aside from this it is interesting that neither party is tapping into paid search of any form to tactically “be there” when new issues break or new legislation is passed. Whilst the pollies are spending millions offline in TV and radio I am surprised they have not taken this online to people with an interest in a particular policy.

Highlight – Liberal Party Site Strategy

The Australian liberal party has built interactivity and personalisation into its website through a range of tools. Two of the key features that sets the site apart from the Labour website are the drop and drag tag cloud and the crowdsourcing functionality. The tag cloud enables users to quickly and easily personalise their experience by selecting the key issues / policies they are interested in learning more about. Whilst the crowdsourcing feature allows users to contribute their ideas and have other users rank and comment on them. This provides the Liberal Party with some very sticky content and also allows the Liberal party to learn from the public and use this information to guide their political campaign by focussing on the issues that are important to their potential voters.

Highlight – Social Media

Social media seems to be one channel that both parties have embraced. Both parties have created Facebook groups, Twitter profiles and even YouTube channels mostly branded as the individuals – Tony Abbott & Kevin Rudd. From a Facebook perspective, the Labour party has used its fan page as a central source of content integrating videos from its YouTube channel and photos from its latest events to provide another hub and place to connect with the public outside of their own website. Whilst the Liberal party has established a similar strategy but utilises a “Get involved” tab to acquire users to their site. From a Twitter perspective KRudd obviously has a significant advantage when it comes to reach with over 1 million followers, which makes Tony Abbots profile look amateur. Both are using Twitter as an information hub and are also utilising the channel to humanise their public profiles.

Low Light – Email Acquisition

Email Marketing StrategyOne of the highlights of Obama’s online campaign in 2008 was the prominent call to action to sign up to the Obama site. By doing so the Obama communications team was able to develop a robust communication strategy to keep Obama’s loyal followers up to date on his views, policies and successes on the campaign trail. Both parties seem to be falling short of exploiting this onsite for different reasons. The ALP has built a somewhat confusing sign up process whereby it is not really clear as to what the user is in-fact signing up to. Whilst the Liberal party on the other hand has hidden its email sign up below the fold on the home page – which would make it very difficult to acquire users. Add to this a lack of sign up features at key touch points on the site (ie within the latest news section) and this signifies a significant opportunity that has been lost to build an ongoing relationship with their potential voters.

Low Light – Mobile Presence

As mobile internet penetration continues to rise, it is interesting to see that neither party has really invested in the mobile space. A quick search online via my mobile browser and search via the apps store shows that the mobile channel has not really been considered as part of either parties strategy. With much talk about iPhone growth, the iPad launch and ever increasing mobile browsing behaviour it will be interesting to see if either party evolves their strategy in this space in the run up to the election.

This is just a snapshot of Australia’s leading political parties online. Have you noticed any interesting campaigns or use of channels by either party? If so please share them below.

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