This is the first in a series of posts. I am going to look at each party that is in Parliament, who has more than one MP, and lay out what my suggestions for the next three years would be for the party and their MPs.
As I pointed out yesterday in my blog about Te Ururoa’s Facebook post on his thoughts about becoming a Minister, Te Ururoa and Marama have a big task ahead of them this term. In 2014 they got around the same number of raw votes as they did in 2011, but because of the higher turn out, they lost around 0.11%. They lost two seats that they held, but managed to retain one. However for the first time they have managed to bring in a list MP.
- Increase party vote overall
- Increase party vote from non Maori seats.
- Establish networks of online supporters to help in future election campaigns.
Both Marama and Te Ururoa are active tweeters. Te Ururoa currently has just under 3500 followers, with Marama on just under 500. To be able to generate any measurable return they both need to increase their following. Te Ururoa should be using every chance he can to talk about Marama on Twitter and tag her in tweets. He needs to be doing all he can to get his followers to follow her, so that as his work load picks up she is there able to keep spreading the message.
One thing they can both improve on is their use of hashtags. A quick look through their tweets shows that Te Ururoa doesn’t really use them, and the one that Marama is most active on is the #gigatowngis one. Part of the Maori Party election campaign was the use of the slogan Tū Māori Mai, which became a hashtag, #TūMāoriMai. I would say they need to establish a hashtag that they can try and mobilise their supporters around during the term. I know it probably goes against the idea of promoting Te Reo, but I would avoid using accents in the hashtag. During the early stages of the election I discovered that the search function of Twitter is accent sensitive and there are a lot of people out there that won’t know how to use accents on their device. The point of a hashtag is to try and consolidate content about a single issue into one place. If some use accents and some don’t, you will end up with content in more than one place. Giving users a single place to discuss issues and engage with each other will help to build an online community of supporters.
Engage. Don’t fall into the trap of just using social media as a way to broadcast. Despite the increase in Te Ururoa’s work load, he can’t forget to engage. He has been very good at engaging on Twitter, that needs to stay the same. There is some engagement on his Facebook page and that needs to stay as well.
A key internal process that the Maori Party need to do is identify members and supporters who have strong followings and try and leverage their followings. Social media, be it Facebook or Twitter, is about spreading the message. The best way to achieve that is to identify key players in your networks and target content at them so they will spread the message.
These key players should be used to help build the followers and likes for Marama and Te Ururoa now, so that in two years time, as the party gears up for the 2017 election, they both have greater reach to talk about their other candidates as they come onto social media.
But that message doesn’t always have to be political. During Maori Language Week Te Ururoa was tweeting a Te Reo word each day and its meaning. Why only do that during Maori Language week? Why not do it all the time? Maybe not every day, but three times a week? What is needed is something that people, even those who follow you who don’t support you, might be likely to share/retweet. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a text based tweet or status. Or use a templated graphic where the word and meaning can be swapped out easily.
Posts like this, and the many other ones from the night of the NRL Grandfinal need to keep happening. They drive engagement and help to build and maintain the image that you are human and you do everyday things.
Talking of graphics, get a style guide created and make sure everyone sticks to it. Use templates for graphics. Consistency and quality are key words to live by.
If she hasn’t done so yet, establish a Facebook page for Marama. There are a number of advantages to a page. Insights are the first, it allows you to see what works and what doesn’t, when is best to post and when isn’t. But it also means that Marama can use her profile for more personal stuff. But don’t post anything on that profile that strays off message.
Finally get the party account running. Use it. Establish it as a central place for people to ask questions about the party and its policies. Have a number of people who can use it to answer and publish content. But make sure there is a single unified voice behind it.
The biggest hurdle for the Maori party to over come if it wishes to lift its party vote is the perception, correct or not, that to vote for the Maori Party you have to be Maori. The message that they need to be pushing is that what is good for Maori is also good for New Zealand. When Maori do well, New Zealand does well. If they can find examples that they can use of Maori driven businesses that are doing well on the national or international stage then they should.
Every message they put out needs to have an element of how doing this will not only help Maori, but how by doing that it helps the rest of the country. This is not because it is a cynical political ploy, but because it is the truth. Lifting educational achievement among Maori lifts over all educational achievement. Lowering over representation in prison statistics lowers the over all prison population and decreases the costs to tax payers.
The next three years are going to be a hard push for the Maori Party. They need to start planning now for the election that is in three years time. Establish what their goals are and work backwards from there. As the average age of the Maori population is young they need to figure out what role social media is going to play in that campaign and stick to it. Use the analytic tools that are available to help build a picture of those engaging with you. Use the same tools to learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn those lessons. Do not think you are better or smarter than your followers. Listen, but also try and lead.