Monday, June 08, 2009

Our politicians waste social media because they are broadcasting rather than listening!

This week The Blowfly has been exercising his almighty brain capacity trying to understand why our 2 political leaders in Australia seem to be so sadly short of the mark in respect to their use of the new phenomena known as 'social media'.

The Blowfly knows that KRudd and Malcolm Turnbull are both prolific readers and digest material like his cousin Max who is the 'cock of the hoop' at the local abattoirs ( Max has often boasted that his offspring can get through a carcase a week).

On his daily beat around Parliament House The Blowfly has heard rumours that both Kevin and Malcolm are reading "Groundswell", the national bestseller about 'winning in a world transformed by social technologies'. He thinks that there is hope if these 2 very active brains are applying themselves to this issue in such a constructive way. One of your ancestors apparently hung around the American comedian Will Rogers in the 30's and part of your family memory is Will's famous retort that 'you only learn by doing 2 things--reading books and mixing with smarter people'.You smile a lovely, knowing blowfly smile.

You spot KRudd sitting in the ante-room munching on a turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich and trying to get in a few chapters of 'Groundswell' before Question Time. You alight gently onto his shoulder not wishing to break his concentration. He is on page 95 and he is stalled. You see the heading 'your listening plan' and then you note the next sentence. "So if you've decided to start listening, what should you do?".

You can hear his internal dialogue. "Start listening? I didn't sign up to Twitter to start listening to people. I want them to listen to me! Hugh Mackay likes the way that I use hyperbole. So do I!
He says that I sometimes go into hyperbolic overdrive. He!He! That's on purpose. Its a great distraction tool I learnt when I worked for Wayne Goss in Queensland.And, boy, did we need lots of distraction techniques in Queensland!"

You see him look at the ceiling and his mind accelerates at the notion of 'listening'.

"How do I use hyperbole when I'm listening? How can I pass on my optimism by listening? How will I maximise the political opportunity of the global financial crisis by listening to people---especially if I have to do it by using Twitter? How can I tell people what a good job we are doing in tough times by listening?"

His mind is so engaged with this line of thinking that you are considering a foray into a little touch of cranberry sauce that has found itself on his tie but then his minder appears and ushers him away to Question Time.

However at least, deep in your heart, you know the real reason he is struggling with social media. He sees it as a broadcast tool rather than a listening tool.

Into the green chamber you go in search of one Malcolm Turnbull.

As things get wound up with KRudd telling the Parliament what a great job he and his team are doing of managing the economy you spot Malcolm with hand on chin. You make a bee-line and position yourself just near his collar. You note the rather outstanding tie he is wearing and recognise it as one that Lucy bought for him on her last trip overseas.

Malcolm's heart is not quite in this Question Time. You are able to read his rather special eastern suburbs mind and his thoughts are not dis-similar to KRudd's. He too is wrestling with the notion of listening with social media.

"How can I tell the Australian people about my grand plans if I have to listen to them? How can I make KRudd look stupid by listening? Did Kerry Packer get wealthy by listening? Gough Whitlam should've listened more.Malcolm Fraser should've listened more. Paul Keating should've listened more. John Howard did not listen to his ministers---- but listened too much to his wife? Maybe there is something in this listening!"

The dialogue in his head is taking an interesting turn you think to yourself. "Let's hope he goes on to read page 125 of "Groundswell" where it talks about 'starting a conversation'".

Because when he gets there The Blowfly knows that the penny will finally drop. He will understand that if he starts a conversation with the Australian people ,and he listens intently to their answers, they will tell him how to win the next election.That listening will provide all the material that an election strategist could wish for.But it wont be easy!Because as the authors of "Groundswell" point out "the transition from shouting to conversation will challenge your marketing department. It's a fundament change in attitude."

In your heart you know that Malcolm has more chance of exploiting social media than KRudd. It's not about humility---because its hard to tease them apart in that respect---but more about wanting to win versus fearing to lose.

The Blowfly knows that the "Groundswell" has started.On the blowfly-telegraph you have heard how Obama showed how it could be used to win an election in 'the good old US of A' and you suspect that Turnbull has the capacity to do that here.

It's been a tough day for a blowfly and you decide to retire to the garbage tins near the Parliament House kitchens and take your fill.All your mates congregate there in the evenings and that's where you pick up most of your material.

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