The US 2008 election was crowned the first social election, but 5 years later and it seems that the two lead candidates for the Australian Federal Election in September have a long way to go to fully harness the power of social media. In 2008 Pew Research Centre found that 35% of Americans claimed to have watched online political videos, yet neither the PM or Tony Abbott have an official presence on the worlds biggest video platform YouTube.
In both the 2008 and 2012 US elections social media was used to attract campaign donations and for followers to announce who they were supporting to their social networks. Between 20 and 25 percent of supporters announced who they were voting for, meaning both campaigns had supporters exerting influence over the friends and followers.
It is still a long way to go until the Australian Federal Election and perhaps the campaign and community managers are keeping their social media powder dry for closer to voting day. On the basis of a number of key social measures across Facebook and Twitter, Julia Gillard is leading in 9 of 11 measures. The PM has a much larger social following, which is more actively managed.
With 54% of Australians on Facebook and Australia ranking as the #3 country in time spent on Facebook clearly growing and maintaining an active fan base on Facebook can help build reach for campaign messages. Size isn’t everything, but on fan numbers alone Julia Gillard leads Tony Abbott with a fan based 5 times the size. However with fewer likes and more infrequent Community Manager posts Tony Abbott has a stronger engagement rate per post. In February Tony Abbott made only 9 Facebook posts to 47 post from the PM, so Julia Gillard has a much more active Facebook presence, resulting in twelve times the number of likes, comments and shares.
Both candidates have low growth rates in fan numbers, but Tony Abbott leads with 5% growth in February, and similar percentages of their audience are Active Users. Because of the overall size of the fan numbers, more regular posts, more likes, Comments and Shares Julia Gillard has four times the number of “People Talking About” her page or posts.
Both the PM and the Leader of the Opposition are more active in Twitter with 122 and 41 posts respectively. Overall Julia Gillard has twice the number of user mentions (@ or #). With 3 times the number of followers Julia Gillard achieves much higher numbers for retweets, and in total has over 90% of the total retweets for both candidates.
Overall our analysis points to a significantly stronger performance by Julia Gillard in Social Media at present, which contradicts the latest opinion poll from Essential Research which gives the Coalition a 56% share of the two party preferred vote.
Analysis for this posted was conducted on Facebook and Twitter posts from 5th February to 3rd March inclusive, using ZO Social Tools. We will update some of these social stats as the Federal Election gets closer. For more information about Social Tools please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com