While the whistle-blower that fed the details of the NSA’s PRISM data-mining programme to journalists has purposefully revealed his identity and Google has launched internet-beaming balloons over New Zealand, Australian politicians are gearing up for the 2013 Federal Election.

This year’s media campaigns look to be particularly exciting, with improvements in digital communication technology and techniques set to change the way politicians engage with the population and push their agendas.

On Youtube we’ve already seen the Liberal Party publish the ‘Headless Chickens’ parody video, and a quick glance at the Labor, Liberal, Gillard, Abbott, or Rudd Twitter feeds would suggest that boosting public approval ratings is about to become serious business.

Youtube videos and cushy tweets are nothing new, of course, but the biggest difference between this year’s campaign and that of 2010 is likely to be the shift away from using the media – particularly social media – simply as tools to get messages out to people and towards using them to build relationships.

Parties can now monitor and analyse how and why the community is discussing issues, as well as figure out who the biggest influencers are. Using this intelligence, political communications teams can create and send out the kinds of messages that really resonate with the electorate. By doing this, waiting for how people respond, and revamping content accordingly, teams will be better able to engage voters with content that matters to them.

This is obviously a good thing, because it means that voters will not only want to read or watch content, but also want to share with their friends and family. In short, we’re likely to see content crafted specifically to be shared in users’ networks, not just seen on a party or politician’s Facebook page or website.

This is the kind of strategy employed by the Obama team in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, and the lessons of that campaign aren’t going to be ignored by the major parties here. Obviously an American strategy can’t be entirely copy-pasted over to Australia, but if you check out some of the Obama-related content from last year, you’ll see just how engaging some of it can be.

Communications campaigns like this are based on a fairly-simple principle – use what you know about your market (or constituency) to craft a message that people will respond to and be proud to share. This is an important part of just about any effective strategy nowadays, and you’ll notice it being employed by everyone from Gucci to the White House.

Would your brand benefit from the kind of campaign that could win an election? If so, get in contact with us. We study this stuff for fun.