Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Having the reverse effect

Youtube is predominantly a site used by young people, or at least this is the perception. Politicians who use Youtube certainly want to portray themselves as being younger, or at least cool and in-touch; it also gives them the chance to reach out to young voters. But there are risks when anyone can comment on your video. Australian Prime Minister John Howard seems to have passed his sell by date, the youthfulness of leaders has been a feature of Australian elections previously; thus at almost 68 Youtube allows Howard the chance to shake off a few years in the eyes of voters. Hence he, or a misguided member of his staff, felt it a good idea that he used Youtube to talk about an issue important to young people: the environment

It is a typical talking head shot, a little wooden and perhaps indicative of why Howard prefers talk radio. Searching for it one finds several user generated rebuttals, such as this! Also it elicited several negative remarks such as "what a shit politician" or "Hey, Nice Name JohnHoward2007, I'm guessing 'Bush's Bitch' was taken ??? Nice to see you put the year in your username, as it is is quite significant seeing it'll mark your governments last year in power ". These types of remarks also drove instantly negative media coverage as the whole initiative was deemed a failure. It also means that he is side by side with some seriously prejudicial material, the below shows him being mocked in parliament under the caption "John Howard is a Farting Fossil Fool'
This highlights the dangers of attempting to jump on the social media bandwagon with no real understanding of the environment. Maybe it was a last ditch attempt to change his image, done in the spirit of things cannot get worse. Or maybe actually someone thought this was a good idea. The problem is the lack of strategic thinking and cost-benefit analysis. Anyone can post stuff to Youtube, a lot probably goes unnoticed; but if you are in the public eye there is a risk. If you are in the public eye and disliked by the users of Youtube, the risks are huge.

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