Pity the poor old candidate campaign manager in the age of social media.
Millions of voters are just sitting on Facebook and Twitter, just waiting to be engaged. All you need is that one “viral” video and you could reach them all. What could go wrong? Everything, if the experiences of the past week are anything to go by.
The problem with “viral” content is that it’s, well, viral – you can’t control it. The bumbling Liberal candidate for Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, found that out the hard way, as did One Nation’s Stephanie Banister, who withdrew her candidacy for the Queensland seat of Rankin after her excruciating interview with Channel 7 racked up more than 500,000 views on YouTube.
Yesterday the Liberal Party denied it had been buying up fake Twitter followers for Tony Abbott when his account swelled by more than 70,000 in two hours.
The Twitterati were on to it in minutes, noting that many of these new followers just didn’t check out – they hadn’t tweeted and didn’t have any followers themselves. (PM Rudd remains the Twitter King with 1.4 million followers. Mr Abbott lags well behind with almost 200,000.)
However it’s quite possible for anyone to buy followers for others on Twitter to cause mischief. For 70,000 Twitter followers, the company BuyFacebookLikes would charge $500, while 500 real Australian followers would cost $39, according to Fairfax.
In the North-East Victoria seat of Indi where Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella is up for re-election, it’s Facebook that’s had the last laugh.
“She (Mrs Mirabella) wins the nasty prize,” said retiring independent Tony Windsor of the divisive opposition front bencher, who boycotted the government’s apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008. Mirabella is facing a tougher-than-expected challenge from Cathy McGowan, an independent for ‘Voice4Indi’, a grass roots democratic movement in Indi, which she has held since 2001.
When a pleading letter from one of her staffers asking for support for Mirabella fell into the wrong hands it was widely shared.
“Dear Liberal,” the letter began.
“In the last two weeks, Cathy McGowan’s team has had at least one letter in EVERY PAPER EVERY DAY.
“In other words, we are getting severely outflanked and outgunned by a far more active and enthusiastic campaign team.”
It was then suggested that almost every single local Liberal member had the capacity to write a letter to the editor of the local papers and to be helpful, suggested some themes for letters in praise of Sophie.
Facebook was onto it before you could hit “like”… with a Letters About Sophie page. Here’s a sample – hilarious.
Dear Editor of the Mansfield Courier,
Our local MP, Sophie Mirabella, is a big presence in our local communities. She frequently visits schools in the district, where she helps young children to read, or vice versa. She has a diverse range of interests that bring her into contact with real Indi residents, including her passion for gardening, cooking, and recreational whaling.
Contented of Mansfield.
Dear Editor of the North East and Goulburn Murray Farmer,
I am writing to let you know how impressed I am with the impressive achievements of Sophie Mirabella, in particular, all of them, which are impressive.
Long Time Reader, First Time Writer.
Dear Editor of the Myrtleford Times,
It is blatantly untrue that Mrs Sophie “Magic” Mirabella, our local MP, is unfamiliar with the electorate. I have it on good authority that she has flown over Indi on no fewer than 230 occasions on her way from Tullamarine to Canberra, providing her with a unique bird’s-eye perspective on this electorate and the issues that matter to voters. Please retract your vicious slur on this good woman.
Not-At-All-Invested-In-The-Campaign Indi Voter.
Dear Editor of the Wangaratta Chronicle,
I write in regard to a recent rumour I have found emanating from disreputable elements, which alleges that our elected Member of Parliament, Mrs Sophie Mirabella is only now learning how to door-knock her electorate. While it is true that Mrs Mirabella is not a frequent door-knocker, this should be attributed to the very solid nature of doors in Indi, which is very hard upon the knuckles. Rather than a source of embarrassment for Mrs Mirabella, I feel this ought to be a point of celebration for all Indi residents, who can reflect with no small amount of pride on the quality of their doors.
An Average Indi Resident.
It’s enough to make the campaign office go back to dropping pamphlets in letterboxes and the neighbourhood sausage sizzle!
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