The Liberal Party of Australia Facebook page smells a social media conspiracy.
If the Liberal Party has got this wrong - raising suspicion of naughty social media pranking or sabotage by Labor - they will look like idiots who don't know how social media works.
The Mystery Followers panic spreads to Twitter:
The Herald Sun is onto it:
News Corp Australia has scrutinised a sample of last 100 recent accounts to "follow" Mr Abbott. Ninety-nine are questionable - having either tweeted no more than once, tweeted in at least three languages, tweeted non-sentences, are based in foreign countries, or have no more than a single follower.One possible, and more likely, explanation than Labor Party activists buying fake followers for Tony Abbott (why exactly?) is Abbott's Twitter account is now a highly placed Recommended Follow for those opening new Twitter accounts in Australia, and internationally. Being a recommended follow immediately sees your following ranks swelled by fake, spam accounts that auto-follow those recommended by Twitter.
Whatever the truth behind it, social media will be well and truly thrust into the Federal Election 2013 spotlight next week, where, presumably, many old and threatened mainstream media figures will try to hose down how much of an influence social media will have on election outcomes.
Meanwhile, the Australian sounds more threatened than ever by social media, Twitter in particular, and has to resort to quoting a Boomer generation Liberal Party advisor, who doesn't even use Twitter, to fill out its 'Real Australians Don't Tweet' agenda. Embarrassing :
To deliver another term of government, Mr Rudd needs to connect with voters in marginal working-class seats such as Lindsay and Greenway in western Sydney and Forde and Longman on Brisbane's southern and northern outskirts. These are traditional Labor-voting electorates now out in the wilderness but critical to ALP success.There you have it. The Australian extensively quotes someone who thinks social media won't impact on federal elections until 2016...or 2019!
Mr Rudd must reach out to undecided voters in these seats and bring them back into the Labor fold. Social media seems an unlikely strategy to achieve this.
The question is, will Mr Rudd's 1.3 million followers on Twitter help him win over voters against Tony Abbott's 151,875 followers?
Grahame Morris, federal director of Barton Deakin Government Relations and a former Liberal Party adviser and campaigner, thinks not.
"The campaign team that focuses its efforts on winning the twitterverse will wake up the day after polling very disappointed," Mr Morris said.
"They will have missed the target and the target is undecided and uncommitted voters who are most certainly not rushing to their iPhones over their Coco Pops to see what Kevin Rudd is tweeting, or anyone else for that matter."
Mr Morris thinks it will be the next election or the one after that will ultimately be determined through social-media campaigns.
But the unions also have no idea:
Australian Services Union NSW secretary Sally McManus is on secondment to the ACTU to run its digital campaigns.
"Facebook is where normal people are; Twitter is for the talking classes."
"When I walk into a room full of our members, predominantly working-class people, and ask who is on Facebook, most hands go up and now the exception is people who aren't," she said.
"Working-class people are on Facebook, but not Twitter."
So the ACTU is pouring all its resources and efforts into Facebook at the exact same time a massive flight out of Facebook to Twitter by Australians is taking place?
The ignorance is blistering.
UPDATE: This is an image the Liberal Party of Autralia posted after Tony Abbott somehow managed to get one of the biggest, fastest surges in Facebook followers in Australian social media history:
So the Liberal Party of Australia are now looking dodgy, dishonest and manipulative on both Twitter and Facebook.
Quite an accomplishment.