Tweeting the election: And the people’s hashtag is ...
With the federal election less than five weeks away, the Australian media is set to go into political overdrive. News bulletins will dedicate additional time to the exploits of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott and in the brief period since the election announcement, we’ve already seen both leaders swoon in the presence of some opportunely-located children.
Newspapers will dedicate additional pages to the dissection of election campaigns, talkback radio will be dominated by sceptical treatment of election promises and “the worm” is likely to resurface in televised debates between the two leaders.
In great news for the legions of Chaser fans, the boys will return to the ABC in the coming weeks to preview the election in their trademark style. The folks behind The Gruen Transfer will also roll out a handful of special episodes looking at the abundance of party advertising that is sure to flood our daily loves in the lead up to the election.
But as well as the coverage that will dominate traditional media forms in the next month, the federal election will also be played out online in a greater capacity than ever before.
The ALP has already rolled out their “Abbott Hospital Cuts” game; an online version of the board game Operation in which players extract Tony Abbott’s internal organs, in much the same that he apparently drained funds from Australian hospitals as health minister. In a similar vein, the Liberal Party has released a YouTube video slamming Labor’s track record and their apparent assassination of Kevin Rudd.
In the three years since the last election, we’ve also seen the rise of a number of incredibly popular social networking tools, Twitter included. Election-themed tweets have been flooding the Twittersphere for some months already and in the lead up to August 21 there will be few better ways of gauging the success of the various election campaigns.
As with all Twitter conversations that have community interest, this year’s federal election has attracted the use of hashtags. Unfortunately for politically savvy Twitter users though, there seems to be some confusion about which particular hashtag to use.
In January all signs were indicating that #election2010 would be the hashtag of choice but as the ABC’s Antony Green pointed out at the time, that particular hashtag was being swamped by discussions of other election campaigns elsewhere in the world. #aus2010 has been slated as potential contender but according to some, this hashtag isn’t suitable for the job as it doesn’t specifically mention the election at all. #ozelection gets around both problems by mentioning both the country and event of interest and this particular hashtag has been adopted by upstart magazine for their election-tweet-tracking project.
But with a lack of consensus about the best hashtag for the job, tweeting about the upcoming election has become a rather confusing affair. Which hashtag should we use? Which one is the most popular? Which one is likely to be read by the most people? Prime Minister Gillard, who only joined the Twittersphere on July 4, hasn’t made the decision any easier, tagging her tweets with both #ozelection and #ausvotes.
But, if stats aggregator what the hashtag?! is to believed, then the choice of election hashtag is rather more obvious than first thought. Taking the election-announcement-weekend as an indicative sample space, one tag rose above the rest, claiming the honour of “the people’s hashtag”.
So as the media starts to gorge itself on a month of policies, politicians and potentially-porous promises, remember to exercise your democratic birthright; use Twitter and the #ausvotes hashtag.
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