When it comes to social media, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is lagging behind Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull worse than MySpace. As Rudd throws billions into the fibre-to-the-home network and the National Broadband Network, it’s ironic that his own personal use of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc has dropped off dramatically in recent weeks. In contrast, Turnbull seems to be picking up his online game. Which, considering this morning’s figures about Rudd’s popularity dropping 10 points, should be of concern for the PM’s office.

Malcolm Turnbull has uploaded personal photos from the budget lockup and the budget reply last week, sent 42 times tweets this month – including some personal tweets to individual voters — and uploaded a YouTube video of his initial reaction to the budget. Turnbull even tweets to non-supporters who are throwing insults at him.

Kbcool- The libs shit me. They want to run the country into the ground with surpluses. Spend spend spend. Malcolm show some balls @turnbullmalcolm

Kbcool- @turnbullmalcolm waiting for a shadow budget. Complete with surpluses and economic recovery. You can’t do it. So shut up. Opposition = fail

Turnbullmalcolm- @kbcool its actually called the budget in reply and it will be delivered tomorrow night. I would be more than happy to send you a copy!

In comparison, Rudd has definitely dropped several paces off his election campaign Kevin07 high — often regarded as a campaign that very effectively used social media to engage the youth vote. He tweeted just nine times this month and three of those were on last Friday alone. The KevinPM team mostly writes his tweets — he never does individual reply tweets — and his Facebook profile only contains links to press releases. Only one photo has been uploaded to his Flickr in nearly two months. His YouTube videos are also far more like traditional advertisements than Turnbull’s, focusing on “nation building” and interviews of how Wayne Swan has been “extraordinary”.

Obviously there are probably a few other things on the Prime Minister’s plate right now – i.e. the budget, Pakistan, football group sex and nation building. But, it’s not like he even has to personally do most of the social media stuff. Hopefully one of his new 65 staff will be able to help him out. If not, Turnbull might make some serious ground with his popularity figures in the coming months. We only have to look at President Obama to witness how powerful new media can be in mobilizing voters.

Peter Fray

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