The social media election? Yeah, Nah


Callum Valentine – Social Media “genius”

This election was billed as the social media election by  many pundits, and some political parties.

The Internet party in particular banked their success on social media.

Kim Dotcom and his little band of failures including Callum Valentine, a supposed social media genius, all told us that their much vaunted apps would secure them victory.

They also told us that their masses of Facebook likes and Twitter followers were going to get them over the line.

They were wrong.

Matthew Beveridge even had an entire blog devoted to analysing and writing about the social media election. He was wrong too.

Matthew has written a blog post about the effects of social media, where he finally cottons on to what I have been saying for a very long time.

I am a huge fan of social media. I love how it allows candidates, MPs and parties to talk directly to voters. I love how it allows people, who would never otherwise meet, to interact with each other and to learn from each other. But it has its limitations. It is very much a self selecting environment. It is incredibly easy to end up with a timeline that is nothing but an echo chamber.

For a number of people on the left, and even some parties on the left. I have a feel this is what has happened. They have seen all the talk about how it is time to change the government. About how the media is biased. How about dirty politics will resonate with the electorate. As well as about many other issues. But they forget that social media in general, and Twitter in particular, are not accurate representations of the rest of the electorate. I blogged earlier about how when dirty politics was being talked about on Twitter, it wasn’t really connecting with the electorate. The articles that were being read on TVNZ, Herald and Stuff were not the ones about dirty politics. They were about the every day things that mattered to, or interested, average voters.

Basically Twitter is a place of bullies, sycophants and haters. Matthew has finally realised that mostly it is a bunch of like minded people forming a giant, or in some case small circle jerk.

With the massive attack on me via Twitter and Facebook as a result of Dirty Politics it quickly became apparent that Twitter isn’t real. Neither is Facebook.

While the haters were hating, the real people out there were stopping me in airports, shopping malls, restaurants and in car-parks for selfies and signing autographs.

Tweets, retweets and likes do not translate into real world votes.

Roshika Deo, a darling in Fiji with media and commentators had plenty of all that, and she got rinsed in the elections. The Fiji Sun even pointed out in their column on the biggest losers that Facebook likes do not translate to votes.

Callum Valentine and all his other paid for lackeys at the Internet party now need to look for another job.

A word of advice for anyone out there faced with a snotty, pimply kid telling you they are a social media expert. Show them the door. They are generally idiots.

Matthew Beveridge still is drinking the Koolaid though of social media.

Social media can play a role in helping to advance policy positions and agendas. But it can only be useful if the people and parties using it understand that it is not a accurate representation of the real world. Just because something is being talked about on social media doesn’t mean it will resonate with the wider population. Don’t discount social media, just keep this in mind.

One final bit of advice for all sides. If you want to change peoples views, engage in reasoned debate. Don’t attack/abuse/demonise the other side.

He is right in his last paragraph, but dead wrong on the preceding one.

Social media is generally preaching to the converted or fighting off the haters…there are no genuine swinging voters waiting for your next pearl of wisdom on Twitter. None.

The Internet party found that out and burned through $4.5 million to do it. For a couple of hundred grand I could have told them to put the cash in the bank and go and knock on some doors.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.