Time flies when you are having fun, or more so when you have been in the midst of a global pandemic. Three years have come and gone, and with that rolls around another federal election.
Morrison vs Albanese, the battle to become Australia’s Prime Minister until 2025.
Smear campaigns, long tours around the most hotly contested seats across the nation, and the odd direct shot at the opposition will certainly be on the menu.
No matter our like or dislike for these events they are staples of any election, fundamental elements that both parties will partake in to get elected.
So why are Instagram pages and memes relevant to this topic? and what strategies are political parties around Australia using with them?
The move to social media has been a steady one over the past few elections, with 2016 being the first in Australia which largely involved the use of memes.
According to Dr. Kajsa Falasca, Ph.D. in Media and Communication Science at Mid Sweden University, social media platforms like Instagram have become so important for political parties because “they pump out their messages and then let their followers do the work”.
These social media pages are effectively just advertising and promotion, ones that do not need to cost ridiculous amounts of money.
Instead, these funds that would have previously been used to fund other methods of promotion, can be used to pay for the very best social media personnel available. Creating content that is tailor-made to the audience that they are wanting to target.
With the 2022 election scheduled for May 21st, it is time to look at the strategies that the current Australian Political Parties are using to try and win the country’s vote.
Keep in mind that this review is just going to be a look at the four major Australian parties. As in any election it isn’t just these parties that will be contesting seats, so the review and judgements made will only be around these four. Furthermore this is just a sample of the content that these parties have provided and will continue to provide over the coming six weeks in the lead up to the election.
Liberal Party of Australia
When looking at many of their most recent social media posts a clear strategy appears.
Images with large numbers alongside facts in bold writing, making the party present themselves in a positive light.
They are not trying to get young voters by using relatable content, rather they believe that their voters want facts and figures.
They want to see that what has been happening over the last three years has been good for the country and that we as a nation should stick with what they deem is working.
As you can see from the post above, it is not an image that is trying to relate to youth culture or be funny in any way.
It is showing the voter the demographic that they are largely attempting to attract and what they want to see.
‘Australia is #1’ plastered on a social media page from the party currently in charge is something that anyone would want to see, and the Liberal Party knows that.
Whilst memes have been used on their Instagram page, a week before the election was called these memes have seemed to have vanished. Now pushing more towards content that promotes their own party and diminishes Labor.
However, on the odd occasion that they do use memes, there is a simple template that they have become accustomed to.
The party is still aiming to hit older audiences through these memes with the below posts being in the context of movies like ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Forest Gump’.
They have taken an image or a movie reference that will attract older audiences and made it easier to digest for younger people.
After the election was called their posts in the coming days became very simple. ‘Stronger Economy’ and ‘Stronger Future’ in bold writing, a simple and easily consumable message.
It is clear that whilst they do understand the importance of younger audiences, their strategy is rather to directly pull themselves up and attack Labor in content that is palatable for larger audiences.
Australian Labor Party
Whilst also putting up posts that are purely factual in nature, Labor is taking another pathway in relation to their Instagram content.
They know that their target audience is currently unhappy with the way that Scott Morrison is running the country, and are highlighting the negative situations that the current Prime Minister is putting himself in.
The post below is the perfect example of a situation where the Prime Minister is looking bad, and they are highlighting it accordingly.
Whilst this may not be a groundbreaking tactic that no party has ever used before, it is effective and has been done well.
To go along with these posts, they have also used memes targeted at younger generations. To highlight the flaws of the current government.
Memes about ‘Call of Duty’ are very relatable to a younger voting demographic.
They pull in the attention of young Australians before they even know it is a political campaign, and aim to hook them in after that.
Now that the election has finally been called, Labor has also started to ramp up their Anthony Albanese content. Ensuring that his face is in front of as many Australians as possible.
The photo above is the perfect example of this idea, an image of the opposition leader looking relateable, proving that one of the pillars of his campaign in Medicare is something that he has fought for since an early age.
It is clear that whilst Labor still see older audiences as an important potential vote, they are using Instagram as a place to garner younger people’s votes, as well using it as a promotion for Albonese himself.
Whilst I thought that the Greens would have the most memes related to the election, they actually had less than Labor.
Instead they are using the platform to get their followers to understand their policies, and also to undermine and diminish the credibility of Morrison to their supporters.
The above image about legalising cannabis is the perfect example of the Greens understanding that this is a policy that only they are wanting to enforce. By using this, they can get more voters who also believe in it to side with them.
Instead of meme templates, they have numerous images of Scott Morrison in negative situations instead, such as a photoshopped one of him in Hawaii as Australia burned.
Whilst they haven’t been using memes, it is potentially because they are not needing to. They have the vote of many young people and are using their page to both get extra followers on their unique policies and to diminish the credibility of Scott Morrison.
The Nationals do not have an active social media account, this could be due to their close alignment with the Liberals.
They did use it back in 2020, however, it was not in any way like the Labor or Greens Instagram pages. It is rather fact-based.
For example, they promote images wishing followers a Happy Easter or telling them that they support a fairer price for dairy farmers around Australia.
Whilst it may be because they joined accounts with the Liberal party, it does seem strange that the account is still not active despite there being an election in under six weeks.
Whilst only a part of the promotion of a political party, Instagram is clearly one of the best means of current political campaigning in Australia.
Whilst every party that was looked at has a few similarities, it is apparent that their strategies for the most part are completely unique.
That is always going to be the case when all four parties are in different positions themselves, however, some similarities do still appear.
It is clear that Labor and the Greens obviously want Scott Morrison out this election, so they have spent time on their Instagram pages discrediting him to get those potential votes for him to transfer to them.
The Greens are also using their page to promote legislations that are unique to them, looking to get votes that way, whilst Labor is trying to increase the public awareness of who Anthony Albanese is.
The Liberal party is very clear in their message, sticking with what they believe is working. Whether this comes by discrediting Albanese or promoting the positive things that have come from their time in power, they are trying to display who looks best.
Who truly knows which strategy will work the best, I guess we will only know come the 21st of May.