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How NZ Labour crushed the National Party on Facebook

The National Party spent approximately $167,000 more on Facebook than Labour or the Greens in the lead up to the recent general election but their strategy to use multiple messages across a broad range of topics compared to Labour's one or two may have helped contribute to their undoing.

That's according to Kim Voon, chief executive officer of Auckland digital marketing agency Insight Online.

Voon says Labour's Facebook campaign was characterised by just one, sometimes two, messages consistently.

"Facebook's transparency reports reveal that National spent $352,000.00 on Facebook between July 14 and October 20, while Labour spent $185,000 and the Greens $190,000 over the same period," he says.

"National must have had at least 20 messages, covering everything from meet and greets with local candidates, roading policy and the wealth tax to policies for seniors. Labour had one message: 'Vote Labour', and less frequently "Let's Keep Moving'."

Voon said it was also notable that National concentrated some of its spend on hotly contested seats like Takanini, where National's Rima Nakhle was eventually defeated by Labour's Neru Leavasa.

"I'm not sure if it was perhaps the changing leadership in National that lead to their inconsistency of messaging, but it is notable that double the spend was not enough to overcome the clarity, repetition and simplicity of Labour's messaging," he says.

"Interestingly the Greens followed Labour's lead with a handful of messages hammered home over and over again, namely 'Vote Greens,' 'Party vote Green' and 'Remember to vote'. There was a bit about student allowances and the environment from them, but mostly it was 'Vote Green'."

Voon said best practice marketing communications and strategy, whether businesses, political parties or NGO's, is to stick to one or two messages regardless of whether or not they are boring and really drive them home. 

"The National Party's Facebook campaign was not best practice," he says.

"I've had clients with very sophisticated products, that have had more complex messages than National. And, often, those campaigns fail. 

"It is important to make the message as simple as possible and repeat them at a consistent pace over a long period of time especially with advertising," Voon explains.

"National's Facebook campaign seems to have wandered all over the place. They used lots of different images and messages. 

"On the other hand, Labour kept the same message but changed up the creative. For example, same messages, different pictures and images, or even copy, behind the same core message," he says.

Voon said it is good to fail fast when it comes to Facebook advertising.

"The quicker you fail the quicker you learn what's working and what isn't and the quicker you can adjust the campaign to get to what does work."