Maintaining a genuine online presence and leveraging technology have been essential in the lead up to the 2011 NSW state election, Green’s candidate for Balmain, Jamie Parker, has said.
Speaking to Computerworld Australia, the Mayor of Leichhardt Council said while social media has been used unsuccessfully by Australian politicians in the past, he is in a better position to use it more effectively.
“A few individual politicians in the Liberal and Labor parties are participating in social media well such as Malcolm Turnbull and Penny Sharpe MLC,” he said. “But most are making a token effort and are afraid to go ‘off message’ because their party PR minders tell them what to say in public.”
Parker said while some political candidates tend to keep their use of social media limited to Twitter and Facebook, he is launching into YouTube and Flickr, and has used an open source CMS to power his campaign website.
Being able to access social media tools while on the run is also important to Parker, who regularly uses his iPhone to interact with his constituents online.
“A lot of my online interaction with the community will be using my iPhone,” he said. “It's an indispensable tool which I use for Twitter, Facebook, taking [and] sharing photos, answering emails and reading the latest political news.”
Parker said the NSW Greens are continuing to ramp up its use of social media, due to its cost-effectiveness and usability as a communication tool.
“The NSW Greens are close to launching a statewide election management system,” he said. “[This]…will greatly streamline a lot of our processes and lead to efficiencies in managing our time and data.”
The Balmain campaign committee appointed journalist and blogger, Neerav Bhatt, to the role of internet campaign director after seeing the potential that social media can have.
“I felt it was important to have an internet campaign director from the beginning of the campaign because a good website and social media presence take time to build up,” Parker said. “Starting this a few weeks out from election day would be tokenistic.”
With the design director behind Barack Obama’s campaign website last month saying that the president’s online and social media presence played a crucial part in his election victory, Parker said his presence will continue to expand.
“My internet campaign director, Neerav Bhatt, had a meeting with Linkedin this week and they told him very few Australian politicians use Linkedin to show the extent of their networks and contacts, detail their skills, work history and life experience to the community they're trying to get elected to represent,” he said.
“Asking voters in Balmain to elect me is just like a job interview so I want to put my best foot forward by creating an online resume that community members can read and judge for themselves.”