Social Media and Australian Politics

At the start of 2011 I published a post making a few predictions about the use of social media in Australian politics.

It’s been about 18 months since that post and it’s a great time to consider where we’re at now. In that post I noted three predictions in particular which were:

  1. Social media will be more integrated into regular campaign activities.
  2. Political parties will seek to establish their own digital communities.
  3. Blogs will start having a greater influence on political discourse.
Read the full post.

So let’s go through each of the predictions then you can make up your own mind about how well my predictions are coming to fruition.

1. Social media will be more integrated into regular campaign activities

This is definitely happening.

You only have to look at the elections across the country since I made this prediction in January 2011. In fact it is being more and more integrated into all activities of political parties whether they are campaigns or fundraising.  However, I’m still skeptical about the level of integration and often see that there can be greater integration.

There is no doubt that the level of integration will only become greater as more political operatives in Australia figure out that social media has to be included from the beginning not as an after-thought.

2. Political parties will seek to establish their own digital communities

There is a big push among Australian political parties to make sure that they are establishing their own digital communities for their members. Without doubt it’s vital that political parties are able to energise and activate their base; and through these digital communities they’ve been able to work more closely with the base.

They’re also establishing these communities to catch those that have an interest in various issues or seek information about their local Members of Parliament.

However there has been a weakening of this approach in the last few months as political parties struggle to cope with the amount of time and effort required to maintain these networks. It’s an interesting situation that as more people use the Internet and social networking tools to find out about policies; engage with politicians or seek to influence outcomes, there aren’t the resources being made available to effectively tap into this burgeoning area.

3. Blogs will start having a greater influence on political discourse

This has been slow to take off.

Australia has a very healthy and active political blogosphere and there are an ever increasing number of blogs talking about politics. While the political blogosphere is ever expanding there hasn’t been the level of influence experienced in other parts of the world.

There are only a handful of blogs that carry influence and most of these are connected to the mainstream media, though I expect this will broaden out more as the political blogosphere in Australia matures. That is not to say, however, that there aren’t some great political blogs but it is questionable as to the weight of influence they carry.

Concluding Remarks

Overall it seems that the predictions that I made 18 months ago are, more or less, on track. While it is disappointing that there are not more influential political blogs in Australia I do believe this will change. It would be great to see political parties further develop their online communities.

Let me know what you think about my predictions about social media and Australian politics.

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  1. Alex, this is spot on. It won’t be long before governments discard traditional media when issuing press releases; they will be done via Twitter and Facebook. Government departments in England have their own blog sites and this is now catching on in Australia.,

    • Hey Migs

      Thanks for your comment. I think you’re dead right about governments dispensing with traditional media to promulgate their media releases. It’s quite interesting to see how different departments in UK and US have their own blog sites and it’s exciting that the trend is catching on here in Australia.

      Perhaps, if done well, we’ll see greater engagement from government departments with people which hopefully leads to better outcomes in the long term.






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