This week in the lead up to the Federal Election I will review each of the Australian political parties digital marketing activities.
Specifically, I will look at their Digital assets and assess them on: 1. Ease of use and navigation and ; 2. Engaging content. Do I know what they stand for? Why should I follow them and ultimately vote for them.
On their website home page, Labor state their overall electoral platform of “We’re for a stronger, smarter and fairer Australia”.
Their policy priorities, direction and values are the focal point of the easy to navigate section “What We’re For”. Each policy area features images of everyday Australians and offers a one page broad overview.
The Prime Minister is not featured until below the fold on the home page which has the Our stories section. This section is less successful. The layout is like a visual dashboard similar to Pinterest and is more difficult to navigate. The headings on the stories are very generic “Kevin Rudd Press Conference” and they are neither dated or indexed by topic. Surprisingly there is no section called the Latest News or equivalent.
The strategy for the web page is focused on Branding. There are no posting of comments from other social network platforms. Whilst you are able to share the content on the Our Stories section to Facebook and Twitter there is no user generated content on the website pages. The strategy for Social media is about retention via engaging followers to take action, stimulate discussion and feedback.
On the website, it is also not easy to navigate the section on Members of Parliament and Senators to quickly search by state or by seat.
On Facebook, Labor has a relatively high engagement rate of 46.9%. That is the number of people talking about this as a % of Total Likes. This is no doubt a reflection of the recent Leadership change in the Labor Party back to Kevin Rudd.
Interestingly, Kevin Rudd has a significantly higher number of Likes on Facebook than the Labor party itself. He also has two Facebook pages as seen below: Kevin & Labour and Kevin Rudd Official Facebook.
Whilst he or his staff rarely respond to many comments, the postings on both pages are very frequent. Readers comments also appear to be highly engaged posting sometimes quite long and detailed comments.
On Twitter, whilst the Labor party has approximately 30k followers, Kevin Rudd has an impressive 1.265M followers. In addition, he has posted over 9,400 tweets.
Lastly, whilst the website does appear to be optimised for Mobile phones, there is an issue on loading times. (The author uses an iPhone 4s with Safari). After trying numerous times and waiting up to 5 minutes, I gave up as evidenced by the image below.
The Liberal Party has also posted an overview of the priorities, direction and values of the Party on it’s website. It is one of the key messages on the home page. However, the focus is on an overall positive message of “Hope. Reward. Opportunity”. If people want to read further, there is a more detailed 50 page document they can refer to, along with a separate policy document on the NBN.
There is a greater sense of their being a team on the Liberal party website. “Abbott Team” is one of the main icons on the home page. The supporting photo also shows Tony supported by key members of the Shadow ministry. In contrast, a lot of the photos of Kevin Rudd are of him by himself or with people not associated with the party. The team on the Labor website are listed separately as Kevin Rudd, Labor Ministers and Members of Parliament.
You are also able to search easily for shadow cabinet members by the title they hold or by state on the “Abbott Team” page.
The Liberal Party home page has a summary of all the Twitter feeds from each of the Liberal Party members in the one place. This also contributes to the perception of them all being part of one team working side by side.
There is also a very effective constantly increasing rolling $ scale on the home page, communicating Labor’s interest payments since Jul 1, 2009. Criticisms of Labor Policy are also highlighted in Red for effect and listed under “Reality Check”.
Like the Labor Party, the strategy for the web site and social media is similar, using the web page for mostly branding and social media for engaging followers in taking action, stimulating discussion and feedback.
Cheekily, there is one interesting initiative on the Labor’s Failure page on Liberal party website. There is encouragement to take some action and use the hashtag #laborfail when tweeting. This can potentially be a very powerful communication tool for the Liberal Party if stories with this hashtag start trending and pick up momentum. The #Laborfail hashtag can potentially appear in a whole range of stories about the record of the Labor Government.
On Facebook, the Liberal party has a positive engagement rate of just under 30%. As a party they have the most number of Facebook Likes at just under 69k. On a personal level, Tony Abbott shadows behind Kevin Rudd significantly on Facebook Likes and Twitter followers.
Lastly, their website does not appear to be optimised for mobile phones.
The Nationals website clearly sets out on the home page carousel: What they stand for, The Latest News, An overview of policies and how to support them.
They have an impactful Meet the Team area at the bottom of the Home Page. However, without a search function I have to potentially scroll through all 18 members before I find the one I am looking for.
They have a very small number of Facebook Likes and followers on Twitter. Their engagement rate on Facebook at 18% is also significantly below the other major parties. This could be due to being the minor party in the Liberal Party Coalition. With the Liberal Party taking the lead on many policy initiatives some people may just be following the Liberals. Alternatively, Digital and Social Media just hasn’t been a priority up to now.
Once again their website does not appear to be optimised for mobile phones.
Most impressive on the website homepage is the facility to translate the content into 52 other languages.
The carousel on the home page of the website wins the award for being potentially fit inducing and very irritating. The website is also one long web page, making it very clumsy to navigate within the site.
The candidates on the Our Candidates area are profiled on a carousel with their background easily identified making it easy to scroll through them left to right to find the right candidate. This visual treatment also aids the perception that this group is a team. Ditto for the group photo on the Facebook Page.
The Greens website and Adam Bandt’s website in particular are great examples of trying to stimulate followers into taking some type of specific action.
A carousel approach is also taken on the Policies area, making it easy to scroll through to the issue of interest and click through for further information.
The Greens have a high number of absolute Facebook Likes, not much lower than Labor and Liberal. Their engagement level is similar to the Liberal Party at just under 30%.
The Greens website is optimised for mobile phones.
Palmer United have highlighted the tweets and Latest News together on the home page of their website. This is a sound strategy to give the appearance that it is dynamic and that there is a lot going on in the party.
The website layout whilst being very basic, is optimised for mobile phones.
For a party that has a small number of Twitter followers and Facebook Likes – 1.1k, their engagement rate on Facebook is very high 69%.
Whilst I understand that candidates for the House of Representatives have been put together very quickly, it is not very impressive for an ambitious new party to use a gmail email address account for candidates.
The policies that they do have are not communicated in an engaging way nor featured prominently on the home page of the website.
The One Nation website states that founding member Pauline Hansen has rejoined the party in June 2013. Since her return, membership of the party has surged. However when I click on the Facebook and Twitter links on the One Nation website, I am taken to the personal Facebook and Twitter pages of Pauline Hanson.
Katters Australian Party
The party has a small number of Likes on Facebook – 2.5k, with a low engagement rate of 2.1%. The Facebook page has not been updated since January.
The Twitter page also has a small number of followers – 1.4k and hasn’t been updated since December.
Democratic Labor Party
Despite a very small number of Facebook Likes – 195 and Twitter followers 596, the party has a very active Social media presence and posts updated content very frequently.
In addition detailed policy overviews are posted on the website in a whole range of areas that are very easy to navigate and find.
Summary & Overall Suggestions.
1. Highlight specific key policy initiatives prominently on your website so that voters can quickly navigate your site and understand what you stand for.
2. For parties with more than 10 members, introduce a search function on your members by state or by title so followers do not have to scroll through each one. Use language and visuals to suggest that the members are working together as a team.
3. Optimise your web site for mobile phones.
4. Introduce a language translation facility into key foreign languages.
5. Create a dialogue on social media to engage your followers. Encourage your followers to take some action, stimulate discussion and feedback.
For those of you who are interested in more on the topic of Political Parties Digital Marketing, here is a link to a recent analysis done on the UK Political parties by econsultancy.
by Konrad Markham
Tips for Improving Digital Marketing