So I thought now would be a good time to take a snap shot of the number of likes that the major parties have on their Facebook pages before the campaign kicks off. Below are screen grabs taken around 9pm on the 3rd of Feb 2014. Scroll down for my comments.
So firstly, it is obvious that a few parties are missing. I made the decision to not include parties that only have one MP, so no United Future, ACT or Mana. New Zealand First do not currently have a Facebook page, so there was nothing to capture.
Currently the Prime Minister has the greatest number of likes on his Facebook page, currently standing at 88,234 with over 10,000 people “talking about this”. The first thought that came to explain that number of likes was maybe the page requires people to like it before they can post to the timeline, and people like it, post then don’t unlike it. But it is possible to both post to the timeline, and comment on posts without liking the page. So this number has not been artificially inflated using that method. The PM’s page is a very active, for example the 10 latest posts have at least 177 likes. The least commented on story has 14 comments, but most have over 50 comments, and some posts have nearly 2000 likes on them. So not only does the PM’s page have a large following, it is also an active one.
This compares with the National Party Facebook page which has barely more than 1/15th of the likes, and 1/9th of the people talking about it. The PM is the obvious driver of the National Party social media machine. The graphics that MPs share come from the PM’s page, not so much from the party page.
Unlike National, Labour’s social media presence is lead by the party page, with just shy of 10,000 likes. Which is around 66% more than the National party page, but less than 1/9th of the PM’s page. David Cunliffe has a greater number of people generating stories about interactions with his page than Labour, but he is still lacking in likes. This may be related to the fact that he has only recently become party leader, and most MPs do not have large Facebook presences. However, for the leader of the opposition, and claimed PM in waiting, to have less 1/10th of the likes of the PM must be causing the Labour Party social media managers to worry.
The other worrying thing for the Labour Party, and the National Party as well, is that the Greens have over 35,000 likes and 10,000+ people talking about their page. This is around 40% of the likes that the PM has, but it is 4-7 times as many likes as either Labour, David or National’s page, and they have more people talking about their page than any of those 3 had likes. However, this can be partly explained by the fact that the co-leaders of the Greens do not have Facebook pages, they only have profiles. Sadly Facebook doesn’t seem to make it possible to see how many friends a profile has, it only shows the number of mutual friends, plus any followers. So it is not possible to accurately judge how many friends/followers they have. The biggest thing that strikes me about the Green Party page is, even if you like the page, you are not able to post onto the timeline. All you can do is comment on posts the page makes. This means there is not a public method to ask the page admins questions about the party or its policies. This strikes me being counter to the Greens claims of being open. The PM’s page, as well as the National, Labour, and David Cunliffe pages allow people to post directly to the wall.
Finally the Maori Party, of the main parties with Facebook pages theirs is the smallest. It has under 2000 likes and less than 100 people talking about it. The page is actively posted too by the admins.
All up, the parties in NZ have very wide ranging Facebook presences. It will be interesting to see how the numbers change during the year. I will attempt to do this snap shot once a month, near the start. In the future I will just post the screen grabs with any change from last time.
I have just been informed by a friend, that Russel Norman has 4996 friends and 1501 followers, making a total of 6497.
The same friend informed me that Metiria Turei has 4925 friends and 2000 followers, making a total of 6925.