The New Year is upon us and it heralds the start of a year in which a federal election will be called. Many are calling for an early election while many others are calling for the 43rd Parliament to go the full distance. There is no doubt that I am one of those that prefers to see the Parliament go the full distance and run its course before the Australian people head to the polls.
One of the exciting aspects for this year’s federal election, whenever it is called, will be the part that technology plays in federal election campaign; both the build-up and the campaign proper.
The shift in how people are accessing the internet and using social media will see a similar shift in how content is delivered in the federal election. Of course the shift I’m talking about is the increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet and social media; including to text and call friends.
Political parties might seem like archaic and antiquated organisations but they are sophisticated and look for anyway of gaining an electoral advantage. Given the explosion in the use of mobile devices to access social networking sites, watch videos, catch up on news and stay connected, political parties will definitely be delivering content designed for mobile devices. It will be interesting to see if political parties will ensure they have accessible mobile sites rather than solely concentrate on ‘apps’.
This is important as apps can be limiting and more likely to only be used by the ‘true-believers’ in respective parties. Mobile sites offer in many ways more flexibility for content to be delivered without creating a ridiculously large app to download. Though there are some very real advantages to using apps.
However in my opinion the more important thing to watch will be the consolidation of the various technologies to take advantage of data-driven voter engagement.
This might be a bit of pipe-dream at the moment as most organisations are constantly looking for the latest & greatest new social media tool. Rather it would be excellent to see organisations campaigning in the year’s federal election using the plethora of amazing online and social media tools that already exist to boost their campaigns and improve engagement with supporters and voters.
2013’s federal election campaign will see the most sophisticated use of voter data ever. It might not be done very well or produce the results Australian Obama fans are looking for but this year’s federal election will see the most sophisticated use of voter data to engage and connect with voters on more personal levels rather than the usual robotic method used.
Unfortunately I doubt that these things will be fully realised. While there is evidence to suggest that political parties and strategy-driven NGOs are moving to improved mobile sites and apps; using existing technology in a more coordinated fashion and using more data to connect with supporters and members, given the experience of 2012 I see there will be little change in how technology will be used.
Rather than using it to reach out in intelligent ways to voters, the technology will be largely used to promote television and radio commercials with little integration with the rest of the campaign. No doubt there will be the usual Flash-games and make-your-own banner/poster options and a range of ‘viral’ videos that will only be seen by the most dedicated members and supporters. And there will be the usual attacks and counter-attacks.
Of course there will be the usual rise in fake social media accounts to troll others and relentlessly repeat campaign messages, stupidly watering down the willingness of interested people to get more involved.
However, I’d be happy to be proven wrong.