Social media causes NZ Labour pains

Summary:What can we say about the would-be finance minister who ran a poll on his website about the New Zealand budget two days before it happened?

What can we say about the would-be finance minister who ran a poll on his website about the New Zealand budget two days before it happened?

What can we say about the followers of his party who said that the budget would make them worse off, again, two days before it took place?

And what can we say about those who then hijacked the poll so that it later said 80 per cent of Kiwis believed the budget would make them better off — again, before the budget actually happened!

Such was the embarrassment of the New Zealand Labour Party, whose finance spokesman David Cunliffe was ridiculed last week when the matter was raised in parliament.

This latest drama highlights the struggles that Labour in New Zealand has had with its social media and online campaigns.

The strife kicked off early in April, when the Labour-supporting Public Service Association union created an online election billboard competition.

The union website was left unmoderated all weekend, so it wasn't long before many anti-left entries appeared after the competition was mentioned on various right-wing blog sites.

Barely had the self-styled "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" stopped laughing when Labour itself followed up with a similar broadband campaign.

Not only did the VRWC have fun creating their own anti-Labour billboards, but Labour was also pinged for breaking the law with its related roadside "stop signs" campaign.

One right-wing blogger, noting Labour's repeated social media fails , then challenged the party to come up with a social media campaign that the VRWC couldn't wreck.

Of course, New Zealand Labour should be commended for its brave attempts at using new social media in its campaigning, even if these attempts typically turn to custard.

I am not aware of anything similar that the National Party has done. Had they ran such campaigns, I am sure the left-wing bloggers and readers might have equally played merry hell.

Trouble is, National is probably alert to the risks, since David Farrar of the right-leaning Kiwiblog is one of the party's pollsters. Coupled with his role in Internet New Zealand, his knowledge of the blogosphere and the online world, he mostly likely advises National on how to avoid such pratfalls.

I guess the issue is one of credibility. If a party, whatever its politics, cannot run a simple online campaign without embarrassing themselves, what hope have they of running a country?!

Topics: Government, Government : AU, New Zealand, Social Enterprise


Darren Greenwood has been in journalism, not all of it IT, since the days of typewriters and long before the web spun its way around the world.Coming from Yorkshire, he can be blunt, and though having resided in New Zealand, as well as Australia, for quite some time, he insists he is not one of the 'sheeple!'

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