A Filter We All Saw Through

This article isn't about policies and economies, it's about marketing techniques, in particular one technique that the Liberal government opted to use in an attempt to connect with young voters, which ultimately was not received.
Published on Jul 14 2016 by Stefano Senese

The Federal election is over. In one of the closest election campaigns in recent memory, the Coalition has retained their power as the nation's government for the next three years at least. Whether or not this position proves to be the best move for the nation remains to be seen, but it can be certain that those in the youngest demographic of Australian voters (18-24) are likely to be fearful of the coming years and how they could affect students and first home buyers alike. However, this article isn't about policies and economies, it's about marketing techniques, in particular one technique that the Liberal government opted to use in an attempt to connect with young voters, which ultimately was not received.

In a previous article, we at Soul discussed both the effective and ineffective nature of marketing techniques that miss the mark when attempting to connect with younger demographics, who are not as easily persuaded as they may seem. Last Friday, as I flicked open my Snapchat on the tram heading to work, I was astounded to see a “Vote Liberal Party” Snapchat filter. Snapchat’s most active demographic is 18-24 year olds (45% of users), a demographic the Liberals clearly wanted to sway before they went off to vote for the first or second time. The idea was simple, target young voters through a medium they frequently use, to appear “with the times”, lowering their perceived conservative and perhaps staid reputation. It makes sense on paper,  but as we've discussed previously, it didn't appear natural, and thus the reception it received from the general public was as far away from positive as they would have perhaps liked.

A lot of voters felt it as an act of desperation by the Coalition to try and sway Generation Y on a platform they cherish (and more importantly, access) so much, when the repercussions of said party winning the election could invariably prove counterintuitive for a vast number of young voters. They recognised it as a ploy, and were enraged at its utilisation to reach them personally. What the Liberal marketing team perhaps surprisingly failed to recognize is that their use of the medium itself gave no support to the policies they had proposed, making it an empty piece of promotion. Voters want rich content, so the very notion that they would reduce engaging and informative political discussion between young voters (which could spark meaningful decisions on election day) to merely a filter was considered by many as disrespectful.

The issue with the Snapchat filter was not so much approaching young voters on social media, but the lack of content Snapchat allows.  On mediums such as Facebook and Twitter, the Liberal government could have created detailed content that highlighted the incentives they would implement to help young voters. People often say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when young adults are having their futures handled, they would most definitely prefer the longer, more detailed explanations.

One of my favourite characters of all time, Frank Underwood, once said “democracy is so overrated”, and in the eyes of many young voters, he was right. The Coalition has won the election, but not the hearts of Australia's young voters. For the Liberal party, this may not be a problem now, but contrary to Frank Underwood's remark, in time, things change, that's politics.