Twitter reveals why politicians shouldn't crowdsource the budget

It wasn't a '#StrongChoice' by the Queensland state government.

How many Twitter disasters do we have to endure before companies and governments realise that creating some kind of awkwardly-worded hashtag to push an agenda is never a good idea? Or in the Queensland state government’s case, a '#StrongChoice'?

A similar Twitter hashtag, #StrongChoices, spawned out of the Newman government’s $6 million Strong Choices campaign, was seemingly aimed at preparing the Queensland public for what looks to be a rather dicey debt-focused state budget.

The stunt has been sold as an attempt to crowdsource the Newman government’s next budget and let the public decide which assets the government should sell to help the state pay off $80 billion worth of debt.

To this point, it’s also renamed the next state budget -- yep, you guessed it -- “the people’s budget”.  

But once you actually log onto the website, watch the video and complete the questionnaire, it becomes apparent that this isn’t just any old survey.

It’s actually an exercise that’s designed to garner empathy for the Newman government's debt situation and also weaken the public backlash it will receive when it starts selling off state assets to reduce debt.

In this sense, this pricey $6m campaign is pretty clever. That is, until you stumble across the hashtag #StrongChoices on Twitter.

There are approximately 2.5 million Twitter users in Australia, but what they lack in volume they make up for in their ability to pick up on and parody corporate and government spin.

So when the Newman government lined up the pitch with their Strong Choices-promoted hashtag, the Twittersphere knocked it out of the park.

Or YouTube…

Graph for Twitter reveals why politicians shouldn't crowdsource the budget

#StrongChoices will likely go down as yet another social media slip-up, but the campaign isn’t a complete flop.

Despite the backlash, the campaign has arguably been successful in making Queensland’s public debt problem painfully clear, creating a strong platform for drastic action down the line. And who knows, the Queensland government might actually draw a substantial sample size for its study, and it may produce some tangible results.

Queenslanders, it seems, do like to have their say. An earlier government-sponsored online survey on alcohol-related violence policy drew up to 12,000 responses.

But there’s a reason why more politicians haven’t started using digital crowdsourcing and polls in all of their decision-making. As some polls on news websites show, they don’t always lead to the most informed or empirical result.

Only what's been described as the "broad results" from the Strong Choices survey will be released to the public when it ends, possibly leaving the exercise open to more public backlash later down the line.

Got a question? Ask (but don’t troll) @HarrisonPolites on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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