The emergence of Social Propaganda in Australian Politics


In my ongoing exploration of the social nuances of #AusPol I have discovered some curious Twitter accounts. In the Twitterverse those who tweet longest, loudest and most often are either (a) Socially Savvy or (b) Social Spammers; or in this case (c) Political Social Spammers.

Take for example @LaborDirt – who with only 743 followers is churning out tweets at a rate of knots, effectively spamming the #auspol feed.

Let me introduce you to the spambots at work a la @GregHuntMP style as exposed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21 January 2013.

A quick scan of #auspol on Twitter shows a constant stream of overtly anti-Labor rhetoric from the likes of:

(This list is by no means extensive – just a quick snapshot of the accounts whose tweets far outweigh their interactions and following.)

Is Social Propaganda in Australian Politics an effective weapon in election campaigning?

Social Trust

Social trust equals social credibility. It’s not about how much you say on your social streams; it’s about the quality of your content, how you share, connect with your followers and interact on scale. Social political trust is an added dimension to social credibility and politicians using social media need to:

  • Use their social streams strategically and authentically.
  • Link and share: locations, places, faces and events (not necessarily only their own!)
  • If you’re a guest in a place of business it’s social etiquette to invite them to the conversation – be sure you remember to coordinate joint @socialnews and if it’s an extra big deal #gettheconversationtrending
  • Generate the news: the minute an interview is published or aired, a correlating social message should appear with links.
  • Resist the urge to respond to social trolls, cyber bullies and spammers; Tweet-for-Tat is never inspiring.
  • Engage strategically on-topic, when like Penny Wong or Malcolm Turnbull, you are able to retort with sharp, pithy shut-downs:


Social Media: your secret in Local Politics

If you’re not socially connected to and engaging with  your constituency, don’t count on their vote. Like market share, your opponents will have swarmed into the social vacuum left by your absence or silence. Large party backing or small, it’s a numbers game and savvy social spend locally will convert to votes.

Download Mashable’s ‘Politics Transformed: The High Tech Battle for Your Vote‘.

Read it.

All of it.

Pay particular attention to the chapter by Anne Nelson called ‘Social Is the Secret Weapon in Local Politics.’

“As digital natives make their way in the world, social media will continue to overhaul American democracy in new and unexpected ways.” Anne Nelson

My blog ‘Social Media and the 2013 Australian Federal Election: And the Social Winner is …‘ provides further insight into why being locally social will benefit a political campaign and convert social spend to political allegiance and votes.

What we see in current #auspol spam is a complete lack of strategy. It’s easy for social spammers to forget that their audience is unsecured: they should always work on the ‘one-click-and-they’re-gone’ principle.

Spam is not a social strategy.

Particularly when that spam lacks currency of information, isn’t interactive and only serves to attack or discredit the opposing party or party leader.

It lacks substance.

It smacks of spam-botting.

It tells your opponent a lot about where you are directing your resources and social spend, making it exceedingly easy to gazump you in the social sphere. Social Sprawl (using multiple accounts for the same brand) dilutes your effectiveness, your brand and your social klout. Socially spamming twitter feeds may not be overtly aligned to a particular political allegiance (or may well be if anyone could actually read the find print in the background theme of @LaborDirt), but the messaging is so overt that you’re insulting the intelligence of social users – the voting public – by pretending otherwise.