The impact of social media will be tested next year when Tasmania experiences its first election with a focus on Facebook and the like.
The Liberal Party has already demonstrated it will use social media to engage with the community.
The reversal of the early school starting age was announced on Facebook in a video by Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff. It went live on August 14 about 7pm – after the news bulletins.
Since then, the Liberals has used Facebook to announce a forestry deal worth $60.7 million and the MAIB premium freeze. This month Franklin Liberal MHA Nic Street did a piece to camera and interviewed a recipient of a sport ground upgrade.
Much like the traditional media, the press conferences are also being streamed live via the party’s social media profile.
Labor leader Rebecca White is also building a strong presence on social media.
The state election, which is expected to be held in March, 2018, will be the first time social media will be used as a major platform. Not only through the official party profiles on Facebook, but also through traditional media using social media to share the latest news.
It follows the United States election, where analysts suggest Donald Trump won the presidency through Facebook. While “fake news” was at play, the now President, spent more money on digital advertising than television commercials.
Now that he’s elected, Mr Trump continues to use social media to make significant announcements. Sometimes at ridiculous hours of the day. He announced the US Defence Force would no longer allow transgender servicemen or women via Twitter.
The advantages for politicians to deliver messages through social media is the control. Social media is the new press release. The message can be controlled, tested and tweaked.
A criticism of Facebook generally is that many people consume pages that they “like”, therefore they don’t often read opposing views. With both major parties in Tasmania increasing their social media presence, there is the risk they could be preaching to the choir. There is also the risk comments could be censored and those reading the announcements miss a right of reply. There would be no balance provided.
It shall be an interesting six months to see just what impact social media will have on the election.