So this is just going to be a little look into one element of Facebook – photos.
However before I start I have to admit I believe social media could be a great medium for Australian politicians. Most if not all are no where near using it to the level they could be to connect. Where are the opportunities? Here they are:
- Getting personal
- Engaging with your audience
- Promoting your own content
- Moblising supporters to campaign
- Raising funds
- Polling communities on issues
- Being transparent
- Having some fun
This is how I see it being used by Australian politicians right now:
- Pushing a message
- Promoting a public persona
So to answer the question of “Are Australian politicians getting personal on Facebook?” I thought it would be useful to look just at the use of photos. There are loads of Facebook pages so I thought I would start at the top first with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (AKA PM Julia Gillard). What I have created is a little compare and contrast with the master of social media in politics President Barack Obama (President Obama).
These images have been copied from President Obama’s and PM Julia Gillard’s Facebook pages. It’s important to note this because it means they are images these individual (read their campaign team) have 100% control over. Through these images they choose to create whatever image of this person they choose. Just like you and I like to show our very best sides when we post on Facebook so should politicians, however most people don’t think about this. They just remember the images being posted and it’s these images that resonate in people’s minds. Even mine when I know these images are carefully constructed public personas however I don’t know these people personally so I still fill in the blanks in my mind with the images they feed me whilst at the same time critically analyzing them. So images are a very, very powerful tool – especially for politicians running in popularity contests.
Looking at the photos on President Obama’s Facebook page I see him being portrayed as:
1. Attractive – when Michelle Obama looks at him it’s like he is the only man in the world.
2. Caring and compassionate – to his own, other’s children as well as to everyday people.
3. A leader – regal, smart, healthy and caring means presidential.
4. A real person – no jacket and shirt sleeves rolled up, laughing, and mucking about.
5. A hard worker – making calls in the campaign and working on daily tasks like everyone else.
Looking at the photos on PM Julia Gillard’s Facebook page, I see her being portrayed as:
1. A trade unionist – lots of photos of her in high visibility vests visiting work sites and factories. There are many good and bad connotations that come along with this image.
2. Married to her job – many photos of PM Julia Gillard with children and babies but other people’s babies. These serve to reinforce to me that she has no children of her own. Where are the personal photos of her with her partner or family and friends?
3. A politician – lots of photos show her campaigning but not actually leading. For example opening major infrastructure projects like roads, visiting schools, visiting sporting groups, visiting naval ships, visiting shopping centers, visiting sports teams and visiting areas of natural disaster.
I don’t know our PM personally however I can see insights on Facebook and other social media sites that suggest the PM Julia Gillard is also a very hard working and highly intelligent person. There are hints she is very caring and compassionate and likes to joke around sometimes. These are only glimpses however they are not strong or recurring themes coming through her Facebook photos.
Here is a comparison between the two’s chosen photos on Facebook.
Example 1: Caring and Compassionate
President Obama comforts and connects with a victim of a natural disaster = caring and compassionate. This image is showing a personal connection.
PM Julia Gillard tours a fire ravaged area of Australia. What a lost opportunity to show us her caring and compassionate site. This image is not showing a personal connection but an activity.
Example 2: Leadership
Love the top image as did millions of people around the world. You can’t even see President Obama’s face but you know it’s him. Also really like this photo of him with the Vice President Biden. To me it says “I’ve got your back”.
Leadership for PM Gillard is almost by association with other leaders and the props of office like flags and conferences and joint statements.
Getting the picture? More examples will follow in Part 2. shortly.