The next time someone says weâ€™re experiencing Australiaâ€™s â€œfirst Internet electionâ€ or our â€œfirst YouTube electionâ€, slap them. Slap them very hard.
Our politicians only see the Internet and the emerging social media as a different kind of TV. YouTube is a place to post commercials, MySpace and Facebook for media releases. Their use of social media is so clueless that geeks attending PodCamp in Perth this Saturday were laughing.
Far from this being the â€œfirst Internet electionâ€, itâ€™s more like the The Last Television Election. Maybe the second-last.
Mainstream media was all a-flutter over the recursive TV ad of Howard watching Rudd watching Howard. Why?
- It was posted on YouTube. Big deal. Any 13-year-old with a computer can do that.
- It was posted within 24 hours of Ruddâ€™s advert. Again, big deal. TV current affairs crews turn around little movies every afternoon.
As of 9am yesterday morning, it had been viewed 20,754 times. The other YouTube videos from LiberalParty07 have around 2,000 views or fewer. Pathetic.
By comparison, Sydney-based Cyrius01â€™s satire Bennelong Time had 31,702 views: 50% more. An ordinary citizen, with no help from a political party, has a bigger impact than the PM and his team.
The Internet is still a sideshow. The real political hit comes when theyâ€™re reported by mainstream media like ABC News with 1.2 million viewers, or even Lateline at a quarter of a million.
The problem with the politiciansâ€™ use of social media? They completely miss the basic concept: itâ€™s about conversation.
Theyâ€™re still locked into a centrally-planned one-way industrial age media model, talking at the public with a broadcast message. Political strategies are still crafted like the Soviet economy of 1948.
John Howardâ€™s MySpace page is a disaster. â€œAbout Meâ€ is a copy-and-paste Liberal media release. There are no blog posts, no comments. Itâ€™s his presence on the biggest social network site, but nobodyâ€™s home. The only personal fact is that heâ€™s 68 â€” reminding MySpaceâ€™s youthful audience that heâ€™s â€œoldâ€.
Kevin Ruddâ€™s isnâ€™t much better. At least thereâ€™s content, but still nothing you couldnâ€™t discover from the ALP website.
The only federal politician who gets it is Senator Andrew Bartlett. Heâ€™s been blogging for three years. His MySpace page reveals his music and film tastes. He was a drummer in a goth band. You get to know the man and, like him or not, at least you can form an opinion. A shame he probably wonâ€™t survive the election.