The WA Premier has been working hard on his Facebook page (or at least his team has) over the election campaign so far. With an average of 3.2 posts a day, and weekly growth of 13 per cent, he’s been trying to close the gap between his 2100 fans and the 12,000 of opponent Mark McGowan.
But while his numbers remain relatively low, the digital strategy used by Mr Barnett’s team is paying dividends: he has the highest engagement of any sitting parliamentarian by a country mile, with around 20% of his total Facebook following engaging by posting, liking, commenting or interacting with his page.
Compare that to other MPs: next on the list is Labor’s David Templeman with 7.6% engagement, Lynn MacLaren for the Greens has 7.5% and the Liberal’s Jan Norberger has 7.1%.
Mr Barnett’s strongest posts are his video ones – such as this one looking at Perth Stadium posted February 4. The modus operandi is to pose a question, include a little information then post a video and, on average, one of Mr Barnett’s video post gets him 97 likes. In comparison, a photograph-linked post gets him 62 likes and a general status update just 4 likes.
Of course, not everyone is happy. Since the election period was launched some 457 people have commented on Mr Barnett’s and many of those are angry.
Facebook now lets you both ‘like’ a post but also indicate five other reactions (love, haha, wow, sad and angry) — and Mr Barnett has racked up 23 angry faces in the past two weeks.
But he can also rest assured that many of his engaged following also like him — he scored 142 love hearts, a few ‘wows’ and even a couple of ‘hahas’.
Who said politics was becoming trivial.
Why does it matter?
The only thing worse than people talking about you is people not talking about you, said Oscar Wilde, and he could have been thinking about Facebook.
Mr Barnett’s Facebook page is a bit of a lightning rod for his party and if people are unhappy, that’s where they go.
For a business, having angry commentators on your Facebook page can make your leadership very nervous and they may even try to can the conversation. In most cases, this is something to avoid — and can backfire horribly.
But the good news is that Facebook tends to balance what the ordinary person can see on your page and you can set the page so it shows comments from top commentators or in chronological order. If you are still worried, you can put a profanity filter on comments to stop people swearing up a storm or even eliminate words you don’t want to appear, and if you look online you can find suggestions for more than 700 naughty terms to avoid.
For politicians, a better list might include any awkward policy issue that will get the angry faces raging.