@Keep carmel case study

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Twitter Case Study about the successful use of Twitter in a Marginal Seat during the 2011 NSW State Election (Australia)

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@Keep carmel case study

  1. 1. @Keep_Carmel Case Study: #NSWvotes Twitter should not be ignored.In 2010, in the lead up to the NSW State Election which was held on 26 March, we proposed Twitter assistance totwo sitting Members of Parliament in two very similar electorates, both demographically and geographically. Thetwo electorates were Balmain and Marrickville, both in Sydney’s inner west. These electorates have been held by theLabor Party for decades, Marrickville since 1910 and Balmain since 1927 except for a short period held by anindependent member after the 1988 election.The two sitting members were both very high profile Ministers in the, then incumbent, Labor Government. VerityFirth, Member for Balmain was Minister for Education and Training, while Carmel Tebbutt, Member for Marrickvillewas Deputy Premier and Minister for Health.Both sitting Members were being challenged by very high profile Greens Party candidates and the general consensuswas that both seats would most likely fall to The Greens.The ABC’s respected political analyst, Antony Green, wrote on 12 March, two weeks before polling day, “A Galaxypoll in the Daily Telegraph reveals the [Greens] party is on track to easily win the inner-city seat of Marrickville, heldby Deputy Premier and Health Minister Carmel Tebbut” and went on to say that if the swing was mirrored in Balmain,then Verity Firth would also lose her seat. http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/03/green-prospects-at-the-2011-nsw-election.htmlBoth campaigns for the seats of Balmain and Marrickville were identical in many ways. Both had a “Keep” slogan:“Keep Verity” and “Keep Carmel”. But there was one very big difference in their campaigns…
  2. 2. Carmel’s campaign used Twitter while Verity’s campaign did not.The problem was this: Carmel Tebbutt and her campaign team were flat out keeping up with media relations and theusual hustle and bustle of campaign management but were not resourced to deal with social media and the real-time web, a medium in which there is increasing expectation to both comment and respond. Ms Tebbutt’s presssecretary was concerned that The Greens were stealing a march on their campaign with Twitter. The Greens, and theInner-West demographic generally, have largely adopted Twitter. The campaign team felt they could manageFacebook, as it was not as time-sensitive as Twitter but Twitter needed to be addressed somehow.One Small Planet (www.onesmallplanet.com.au) took on the challenge of becoming the “Unofficial Twitter Campaignto Keep Carmel”. The concept was to create a very well informed advocate for the Keep Carmel campaign withoutpretending to actually be the Campaign or the Member. There were a number of reasons for this but the main oneis quite simple: as the Member was not on Twitter herself it would lack credibility to have someone ‘ghost-tweet’ onher behalf and would result in a Twitter backlash and bad press.The Twitter account @Keep_Carmel was set up and first tweeted on 1 February, and with 54 days until Election Daybegan tweeting with “Let’s keep Carmel in Marrickville” and tweeted in total 368 times up to and including onElection Day.That’s an average of about 7 tweets a day. However, the nature of Twitter is such that on some days there weremore tweets than others. For example, @Keep_Carmel live-tweeted during the Marrickville Town Hall forum anddebate between the two main candidates and, on the day that Sydney Morning Herald journalist Georgina Robinson
  3. 3. (on Twitter @geerob) toured the seat of Marrickville live-blogging and Tweeting, @Keep_Carmel engaged andensured there was a presence in the evolving story @geerob was posting to the Sydney Morning Herald.A photo-sharing, Twitpic account was set up (http://twitpic.com/photos/Keep_Carmel ) and candid, ‘on thecampaign trail’ photos were put up via Twitter. The photos were viewed hundreds of times throughout the campaignreinforcing the message and the ‘Keep Carmel’ and ‘Carmel Tebbutt’ brands. When a radio interview went well andthe announcer openly endorsed Ms Tebbutt and denounced The Greens candidate, the audio was tweeted and re-tweeted so that within minutes of the interview concluding, it spread virally via Twitter and thus the endorsementwas heard by a vastly greater audience.It was crucial the Twitter account be accurate so One Small Planet remained in regular contact with Ms Tebbutt’sPress Secretary to source up-to-date material for content for the @Keep_Carmel tweets. The strategic timing for thetype of content was an important factor. Constant monitoring of Greens supporters and their content on Twittermeant @Keep_Carmel could address issues in real time. A tone-of-voice was established that would complementwhat Ms Tebbutt was herself saying. Without engaging in debate, per se, @Keep_Carmel could take the challenge upto The Greens in the medium that they were using to attack the campaign - Twitter.From a standing start on 1 February @Keep_Carmel went from zero followers to nearly 2000 – in a mere 54 days.While the One Small Planet follow strategy was focused on the electorate, the nature of Twitter is such that a lot offollowers will not be in the Marrickville electorate. However, the word of mouth that Twitter generated resonatedfrom outside the electorate with voters within the electorate and the engaged audience on Twitter certainlyincluded people in the electorate.Think of Twitter like talk-back radio; not everyone listening calls in but everyone listeninghears those who do.Conversations on Twitter are often consolidated into searchable groups by the use of a hash-tag in front of a word,acronym or phrase. Anyone wanting to have their say and monitor what others had to say on Twitter about the NSWElection used #NSWvotes in their tweets. The @Keep_Carmel account regularly included #NSWvotes and otherrelevant #tags in tweets to ensure the broadest audience for those tweets.In the closing stages of the campaign the focus was on local issues demonstrating Carmel Tebbutt’s commitment tothe electorate. So @Keep_Carmel tweeted constantly about Ms Tebbutt’s achievements as their local member. Inkeeping with Twitter-speak every tweet with this subject matter included the tag #LocalFocus. This #tag was createdas a demonstrable device and used in each relevant tweet. Given that tweets are limited to 140 characters, iteliminated the need to explain the meaning or geographical relevance of the tweet. @Keep_Carmel was quiteprolific with this subject matter drumming the #LocalFocus message into the audience which is something one cando with Twitter better than any other medium. The corollary of this was to demonstrate that no other candidate, inparticular The Greens, had as much #LocalFocus
  4. 4. Before establishing the advocate account, @Keep_Carmel, the Twitter sentiment towards Carmel Tebbutt reflectedthe attitudes expressed in polls and press about the incumbent Labor Party Government - very negative. Pundits, likethe ABC’s Antony Green, who is also on Twitter (@AntonyGreenABC), were also writing and tweeting links to theirmaterial, with negative sentiments. Without any Twitter presence the Keep Carmel campaign would have beenunable to provide any counter arguments to swing sentiment towards a more neutral or even positive position. Fromthe end of February and through to the election in March the sentiment had changed to become primarily neutraland the positive sentiment out-weighed the negative at least 5:1.As at the time of writing, 30 March 2011, without all votes counted (awaiting postal and absentee votes), Verity Firthhas had a swing against her of 8.6% enough to potentially lose the seat. On a two party preferred basis, aftercounting preferences, there is a slim chance she will hold her seat.Carmel Tebbutt, however, has only a 7.1% swing against her and a clear majority of the primary votes. CarmelTebbutt has retained her seat and claimed it on the afternoon of 30 March. The conclusion is simple. Twitter cannot be ignored

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