We are more than half way through the election campaign, bolting into the final two weeks of the campaign. Yes, if you listen carefully that’s the sound of WA breathing a sigh of relief. For an election that will either spell a remarkable comeback for the Government — or a seismic shift in direction with Labor — it’s been surprisingly dull. No real scandals, no shock resignations. Maybe we became used to the hour-to-hour lurches of the US Presidential election, but there’s little real drama as WA putters to the polls. So how do the social media scorecards look at this point in the campaign?
The Liberal Party has 18,000 fans on Facebook and posts an average of 1.8 times a day, but it has barely grown its follower base since the beginning of the campaign. The party page scores well for engagement, but the focus appears to be on Colin Barnett’s personal Facebook page. His following grew 10% a week since the beginning of the campaign, albeit from a low base. He also posts four times a day, spurring engagement. What does the Liberal Party post about?
The Labor Party started the campaign with around 14,700 Facebook followers and has grown that by 5% each week, to nearly 17,000. That leaves Labor just shy of its Liberal rival. There are also positive signs for its engagement. It has a significantly higher percentage of engaged followers on Facebook than the Liberals. Where most of the Liberal engagement is taking place on their party leader’s page, Labor is drawing people to the party page. And people who react to Labor’s posts react strongly. Since the campaign began, they have had 799 ‘angry’ reactions and 729 ‘loves’ — a sure sign their followers feel powerfully about the issues. What does Labor post about?
The Greens have been active on both Facebook and Twitter, with almost as many followers as the major parties on Facebook, a relatively engaged audience and very emotional fans. Their posts elicit incredibly strong reactions: 2000 angry faces and 2500 love hearts since campaigning began is a sign of a cross set of voters. They are also having the most fun with the campaign, with their gifs, memes and videos, such as this one in which Twitter user @bony_rabbit takes the mandatory awkward politician dance at the Liberal Party launch and makes it even more cringeworthy by stripping out the music:
— TheGreensWA (@TheGreensWA) February 23, 2017
One interesting note of their campaign is a willingness to reshape information about other parties and their platforms — calculating that what the Liberal Party believes will appeal to their voters could appall those who might vote Green.
— TheGreensWA (@TheGreensWA) February 14, 2017
The Nationals WA started the election campaign well behind the major parties — and also a long way shy of groups such as the WA Shooters, Fishers and Farmers. They have been working hard to redress the balance, and their Facebook followers are growing by around 7% a week. But with 1.5 posts a day and fewer than 1500 followers, it’s probably too late for this to give them the social reach needed in this campaign. It’s a shame because what they do post gets their audience excited, with a video from the eve of the campaign scoring 126 reactions, 128 shares and 30 comments. Their leader Brendon Grylls has stayed away from Twitter but has good engagement on his personal Facebook page. Here’s the post that really got his followers talking, on the contentious issue of Iron Ore royalties.
The Shooters, Farmers and Fishers face some tough competition, given the dominance in traditional media of One Nation. But while they started well, with around 5000 followers, their numbers have stalled. What do the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers post about?
As One Nation has no WA page, it’s hard to pick out how much local engagement they are really getting. None of their local candidates has more than 1000 followers (Charles Smith for East Metro has 822). Together the most busy pages post an average of 1.9 times a day. Will this be enough to win voters over? With all the free publicity national leader Pauline Hanson receives, a WA Facebook presence may be largely unnecessary. But there’s a long way to go before any One Nation candidate matches the profile of the major or minor parties.
The race to win social media is really a show down now between Labor, Liberal and the Greens, but given Labor’s focus on bringing people to the party page over that of one candidate, and working both platforms, we are going to give them today’s award by a nose.