Politicians struggling to cut through on social media, experts say

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While there can be no doubt politicians are becoming more visible on sites like Facebook, Twitter and instagram, social media trend experts have questioned their effectiveness.
University of Western Australia associate professor of marketing Paul Harrigan said politicians needed to adapt the way they communicate on social media platforms if they want young people to listen.

"I would say that they're treating these two-way channels like traditional one-way channels," he said.

"They need to be going out there and try to engage with people and listen to what people are saying — their thoughts, their views, their policies — and then adapting their strategy around that.
"But I'm not seeing that happening."
Mr Harrigan said often what most parties were doing was taking the same message, sometimes the same advertisement, and simply placing it on Facebook and Twitter. 
"It can't be as planned as that," he said.
"You have to be more intuitive and more spontaneous, so asking people questions and reacting to [their responses]."
Mr Harrigan said content on social media should either educate or entertain, and for political parties educational content was most important.
But he said they needed to change their approach.
"Social media will not work if you develop a policy in a room with five people and then go onto social media to tell people about it because the people on social media will say, 'why was I not involved in this decision'," he said.
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"So it comes across as not understanding the way the younger generation wants to engage at all."
With tech-savvy 18 to 22-year-olds making up the newest group of voters at next year's state election, media strategist Ruth Callaghan said politicians should be using social media to their advantage.
"So we know that about 20 per cent of 18 to 25-year-olds aren't enrolled to vote and if they are enrolled to vote they don't believe that they're being listened to," she said.
"Politicians should be going online and using this as the world's biggest focus group.
"These are people who are prepared to tell you every moment of the day what they're thinking. It's whether or not the politicians are actually listening."
Newer platforms like Snapchat and Instagram were changing the game again.
"You need to be really aware what the best medium is," .
"There's a platform for every kind of situation, you can't have one size fits all."
Experts agree that unless politicians start adapting, they would be left behind.
"I think a lot of politicians frankly are scared," An Expert commented.
"They're worried that if they ask too much they're going to get a push back from the public that they can't deal with and they don't like.
"That's going to have to change, you cannot keep having a one-way conversation with the public, the public wants you to hear them, not the other way around."
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