Managing social media during the Federal Election
It’s on! Are you social media teams ready to face their audiences during the lead up to the May 18 Federal Election?
Politics, whether you love or loathe it (these days I suspect there’s few in the former camp), affects us all. The social is political by nature, and all of us have ideas and opinions about the society we’d like to see. This bleeds into our everyday lives, often in unanticipated ways.
The upshot of that is that most organisations, brands and businesses, even if they have nothing to do with politics or causal campaigning, will probably see an uptick in election-related chatter. Temperatures will rise and a post about a product promotion might rabbit-hole off into housing policy before you know it.
If you can’t escape it, how should you approach social media management around the election? These tips should help you navigate the political waters.
Keep your true north in focus
It’s best to adopt an approach aligned with your overall brand or organisational ethos. If you’re rarely political, suddenly fanning the flames of passionate debate might be confusing or even distressing for your social audiences or community members. If you’re consistently engaged, opting out of the conversation may feel suspect and inauthentic.
Conversation is likely going to happen. So develop a sense of how your organisation can honestly add something valuable in step with who you are in the world, to inform your content and contributions.
Though the election is going to throw up a number of hugely important questions and discussions for the country, being human, most of us will tire of campaigning pretty quickly (especially when the bar is low).
Consider curating content, activities and discussions for your community that counterbalance the election and alleviate their fatigue. Think mindful, calm and generously spirited content that inspires rather than depresses people. Humour is also a superb cudgel, and Aussies wield it expertly. Counter program the dominant themes of the day and community manage so well that elected leaders take notes (the election falls at the same time as the Game of Thrones finale and Eurovision – a gift from the social media gods if ever there was one).
Encourage diverse voices
Nothing kills communities faster than a monoculture. Even within social media groups or online communities focused on specific purposes, interests or demographics, there is a spectrum of voice and nuance that stands to enrich the group and the organisation facilitating it.
Make social media great again by encouraging and embracing diverse views, perspectives and lived experiences from a varied group of folks.
Be bold and host a debate. Interview people in the community with different or unexpected takes. Let members of your community see each other in a new light. It’s healthy and it typically makes for longer lasting communities and more engaged social media audiences.
Moderation frameworks are essential
However you ordinarily moderate in your social media channels or online communities, moderation around the election isn’t really optional. Hopefully, you already have protections in place around defamatory content, abusive content and the other range of problematic or toxic behaviour that can get your business – and the individuals posting – in serious trouble. But if not, now’s the time to start.
This may be one of Australia’s most divisive elections in a long time. Establish clearly understandable guidance that helps your team mitigate risk and sort the harmful from the heated, workflows and escalation policies. Moderation isn’t black and white, hide or delete. Uncomfortable will happen, and it may not be high-risk by default. Explore engaging specialists to assist with nuanced coverage up to the election, and look to expert resources to inform ways of working you can build on long after Anthony Green has called the result.
Zero tolerance for harm
Adopt a zero-tolerance approach for douchery. Hate speech, criminal behaviour and content designed to create harm or distress has no place in civil society and the channels where conduct ourselves. As Renee Diresta neatly puts it: freedom of speech is not freedom of reach. People do not have a right to express their views and behave in any way they choose on your social media pages or online communities. They can take it to their personal platforms; you are not obliged to cede yours (especially when there are social and possibly legal implications if you allow it).
Allowing any form of harmful content or behaviour invites more. Show that your spaces are respectfully managed and moderated and you’ll discourage bad actors. It’s hard when you’re fighting against algorithm’s that reward sensationalism. But I bet you can best them.
Shutting down all election-related speech is technically an option (these channels are private and regulated spaces), but it’s not recommended. Instead of making the conversation go away, it’ll likely enflame tempers further and risk people assuming that your business has a particular ideological or partisan stance (whether true or not).
Moderate carefully, program compassionately and don’t waste your vote.
Need out-of-hours social media moderating before the election?
Quiip can help! Get in touch with us to get a quote!