Socia media

Post-election social media blues (sort of)


The post-election period is always an odd one for political social media, and with the added bonus of coalition negotiations and pre-positioning going on, 2017 is proving no exception. MPs, Party Leaders, and the parties themselves, need to walk a fine line to get the tone and quantity of their posts just right, depending on how they fared during the campaign.

For Bill English and National the challenge is celebrating what was a very good result for a party looking to get a fourth term in government, but also not being too triumphant about it, especially knowing that it could all be for nought should they not be successful in coalition negotiations. It's also especially important that they're also seen to be getting on with business, as much as they're able to in a caretaker environment.

For Jacinda Ardern and Labour it's about acknowledging what was a good turn around from the start of August, but also balancing that out against the reality that the momentum was sucked out of their campaign in the final week and a half, and a significant part of that was self-inflicted over a poorly executed tax policy double u-turn. Much of what Labour has and will do is about trying to put that behind them and focusing on the positive result and the expanded caucus it's brought them.

Things are a little different for the Greens and New Zealand First. Behind the scenes the Greens will be relieved that they'll finish relatively well clear of the 5 per cent threshold, but publicly they need to keep up the morale of their supporters who will feel a bit beaten up from the last two months. Also, James Shaw needs to post something. As the sole leader of the Greens until their next leadership election, he should be making himself more visible, not less, in order to plug that gap until it's filled.

For Winston Peters and New Zealand First I'll throw conventional logic out the window, purely because they've never really bothered about it before. Winston Peters in particular has carried on, and frankly should carry on, exactly as he did before the election. It's worked for him. Attack the media, attack National and Labour, use social media to amplify the attention your often pugnacious comments get.

As for David Seymour and ACT, it's a tough one. In either coalition arrangement it's unlikely David will get any portfolios or policy concessions, and ACT's signature achievement of Charter Schools is likely to be under threat should Labour form the core of the next government. David has to seem circumspect about ACT's poor election performance, but he's also doing the right thing heading around the country to thank their candidates and supporters, who will be feeling pretty down in the dumps from that result.

For the Māori Party hopefully someone will reactivate their Facebook page soon!

As for how they're performing statistics wise? Oddly we've had a reversal of the final weeks of the campaign. Whereas Bill English and National were ascendant, now it's Jacinda Ardern and Labour who are posting more than twice as much as Bill English and National, as well as receiving significantly more engagement on their content.

To me that suggests that National and Bill English may have spent more in advertising their Facebook content in those final two weeks than Labour did, but we won't get a proper view about each party's digital spend until election spending returns are made available in early 2018.

Certainly though, Labour and Jacinda Ardern have been enjoying the lion's share of the running since the election on Facebook.

It can be hard to find content over this period, but some easy ideas include introducing your new MPs, offering a behind-the-scenes view of what happens when someone becomes a new MP, and hunting through the screeds of video and photos taken throughout the campaign and finding some highlights. Labour have done a reasonable job of celebrating their new MPs, and I've seen plenty of good examples of new MPs sharing their perspective on their new responsibilities - including more photos of the Members' Bills biscuit tin than I ever thought was possible!