Kevin Rudd & Julia Gillard. (source)

So for those of us who choose to live under a rock, the Rudd-Gillard battle for who will ultimately become the leader of the Labor Party (and PM) is on like Donkey Kong.And surprisingly – there isn’t much talk on social media.

Let’s consider things for a minute. The public is pretty interested (see the #auspol and #respill Twitter hashtags) about what is going on, and where things are going to ultimately fall. The two leaders have until Monday to pull together as much support as they can muster. So yes, it’s not exactly a public vote. But these voters are elected officials. And that means they have electorates.

Something that has been handled pretty poorly so far is their use of social media. Of course, they have a whole lot of priorities and I’m aware that it’s one small tool compared to working with the pollies.

But let’s have a look at the two tweets that have gone out:

 

In my opinion, Julia is ahead so far. She’s actually used twitter as a way to give an opinion, and let the public know her intention.

BUT.

Look at the @replies. Rudd’s tweet has a series of replies (yes, it’s only 5, but compares well to zero) most of which are positive. So why aren’t our leaders using Twitter as what could be an intensely effective tool to advocate and influence in such a short time period?

Aside from the fact that Gillard and Rudd should have someone tweeting their comments at press conferences (so as not to just rely on the news sources), there is something I’d like to see happen, and I think that the person who does it can get ahead a long way.

How about an instant twitter campaign? So many people are following the #respill tag, and it is a real opportunity to engage with the public on issues that matter to them.

The two leaders need the Australian public to also do their campaigning work. Things like “RT if you support me to lead the country”, “Send a message to @insertpoliticianshandle with your support for me”, actual information about what they want to do and why they want to do it – directly to the public, not via a press conference: all of these things would go gangbusters. And I think that it could really help them both personalize the campaign, and garner the public’s support as part of their work in campaigning for the support of other politicians.

But since there is SO MUCH conversation going on , and often misinformation being spread, there is a huge opportunity to actually engage with the public and make them part of the debate. Sure, many people don’t care, but both politicians have their supporters (and their opponents) who they can engage with and try to influence.

Only one key piece of advice though: engage, but never feed the trolls. They bite and don’t let go.

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