Why aren’t Australian politicians meeting CEOs of Facebook Twitter etc? #auspol

Social Media: CEOs of Twitter and Facebook regularly meet with political leaders worldwide – Prime Ministers’ of Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and so on. But not Australia. Why not?

In Bed, Much? I understand courting Rupert Murdoch. Doesn’t do anything for us the voters, but might help pollies campaigns. Newspapers are information distribution channels, might as well try and make sure your stuff is being distributed and hopefully impartially. But when it comes to social media, Australian politicians simply do not understand the scope of metagovernment, scoff at grassroots movements and are not following the lead of overseas Leaders who meet and work with CEOs of Facebook and Twitter. So: Ten bucks if you can find me a photo of a current Australian political leader meeting with CEO of Facebook or Twitter.* Please note: I have skillz in teh photoshopz too 😛

This article includes my recent piece in The Australian on how poorly thought out the social media campaigns during the recent Australian election cost both parties votes.

During the Australian election, the newspapers went crazy with their front page opinions. You saw the headlines, so did I. It’s what newspapers do and no doubt would do anti-News on any incumbent. Which is why politicians court Murdoch and his ilk, begging favours, hoping for leniency.

Murdoch and Abbott – from Twitter (CanberraTimes)

And while The Australian has a circulation of around 45,000 digital subscribers and  around 120,000 print readers and The Australian Financial Review of around 28k digital subs, they are still the business newspapers of Australia.

How poorly Australian political leaders understand social media:

Here’s the piece I wrote for The Australian straight after the election:

Plenty of shouting but pollies fail to engage

People are important to social media, not just because they receive the message but because they transmit the message. When someone answers your question on Facebook or retweets your Twitter query, they forward your content on to their friends and family. If traditional media is bought attention then social media is earned attention. So when politicians talk about social media engagement, it’s not that that they actually care if voters answer political questions or like or share their News, but they need them to forward the campaign messages into the voters’ networks. Because it’s pretty easy to talk to an empty room on social media, you really have to work hard to have one person pass your information on: and not one politician stepped up to play the long game, social media-wise. A last minute attempt with GetUp to have a debate on social media sites is not sustained engagement but a blink-and-miss-it event.

In this 2013 election, there were no long term social media strategies, no call to actions, no using social media as a channel for earned attention around the election. All the politicians simply used Facebook and Twitter to broadcast their campaign statements. An example of a typical Kevin Rudd tweet “In a few days Tony Abbott could be Prime Minister. Step up for Labor now and stop him in his tracks#stepupforlabor.” What is in this tweet to encourage voters to answer him, forward the content or undertake any other call to action? It’s a statement. The difference in engagement between a statement and a question is dramatic. Don’t advertise, engage.

Tony Abbot’s updates were no better. Averaging 2 tweets a day reaching around 193,000 followers but then shared with 438,000  others. Surely a channel of this size deserves more than “Speech just posted: click here” updates? Asking the population what they thought of his presentation would’ve taken the discussions from 438,000 voters to millions.

It’s possible on Facebook to differentiate the people engaging with the politicians Facebook Page versus voters speaking favourably about them on their own cognizance. For example out of the 13 million people active on Facebook last month, 460,000 Australians spoke positively about Kevin Rudd: 52,000 engaged with his Facebook Page. For Tony Abbott, 100,000 passed on Abbott’s messages, yet 840,000 were passing on other positive messages about the Liberal leader. This is not engagement. It means that the leaders are talking to a small group and the rest of their fans are campaigning on their preferred leaders behalf.

From the politicians; no informal questions, no #ausvotes hashtags, no call to actions. Just whining, promotions and ads. Social looks a lot like broadcast at election time.

For as long as formal question and answer sessions like Reddit and Google Hangouts are confused with engagement, our politicians will continue to be underwhelmed with social media all the while Climate Commission Climate Council and NBN Petition and other metagovernment grassroots social media movements kill their mandates. Mostly cos politicians confuse “mandate” with “carte blanche“. Our will, NOT yours, be done…

Social Media shifts paradigms that some politicians understand

In spite of the news baron’s best efforts, the election was a much closer result than the newspapers were predicting. We in Social Media knew – easier to read 12 million on Facebook and 4 million Australians on Twitter if you have the right sentiment and profile based analysis tools.

Immigration refugees
Last 30 days: positive on Immigration

I don’t know about you, but there’s a danger in focussing on the Sun King. He may not be King for much longer. There is a yearly drop of around 17% for newspaper readership. Year on Year. Not many years left at 17% loss of readers…

Newspapers circling the drain as paywalls falter Crikey

And it’s not just News Inc- Fairfax too.


The Prime Minister of Malaysia understands this – with the CEO of Facebook:

Here is the Malaysian Prime Minister again with the CEO of Twitter Dick Costolo:

Dick Costolo (Twitter CEO) also met with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in March to talk through the election. Zuckerberg met with Barack Obama (of course) and … well, here are the photos.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, meets South Korean President Park Geun-hye:

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Zuckerberg

and meets Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

and even the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key “”As a Government we are very focused on trying to lift New Zealand’s technological capability. Google and Facebook represent real opportunities to keep and grow our on-line connections to the rest of the world.”

NZ PM and Zuckerberg

Why meeting CEOs of social media sites is important to Politicians.

Other reasons for meeting with CEOs of digital nations larger than your own, and owning 1/2 of your own population?  Let’s see:

That mandate word is going to kill off representational democracy. It seems to be a case of “you voted us in, now leave us alone for 3 years”. Not gonna happen in social media world. The problem is that the tools we use to share our opinion around a #hashtag subject or to a @profile are controlled by a third party. Move over Murdoch, Zuckerberg and Costolo are now in control?

Twitter censors #OccupyWallStreet – they denied it, but even the tools I was using could see that #Occupy was owning social media.

With Facebook removing infographics that address political issues such as rape:

Facebook Censorship by Laurel Papworth

And then Twitter suspended the account of an Australian for asking the question:

“will you accommodate an illegal male Sri Lankan refugee in your home, yes or no?” (Polliter)

Who is going to stand up for us? Allow our voices to remain heard? Not the current lot of politicians that see social media as a undisciplined rabble. Unless they get 300,000 signatures on a petition and then they are even worse- an organised disciplined rabble.

So while politicians pay homage at the Court of the Sun King, our main news source – family and friends, commonly called social media – is ignored by politicians. Even though those news sources are tainted and controlled in so many ways, that pollies don’t even understand or worse yet, agree with that censorship and will continue to ignore the powerbrokers in the new News economy.

if there are any others reasons for politicians building relationships with CEOs of social media – other than understanding the channels better, protecting the voice of everyday Australians, and yes, even self-serving obeisance at the information powerbrokers’ thrones – I’d like to know what they are. Comment, tweet, and blog away! 🙂

*If I can be bothered posting it to you.

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