Katherine Deves, the Liberal candidate for Warringah has relaunched herself on social media, capitalising on the heavy coverage of her choice as candidate and the debate around her controversial views on trans athletes.
The relaunch has boosted her engagement and followers in the days leading to the 2022 election.
Ms Deves first launched her campaign Facebook page in early April, following weeks of news coverage of her views and selection.
Her first video post has been seen more than 47,000 times, attracting 1800 facebook interactions and more than 800 comments
Since the page was launched, Ms Deves has grown her Facebook following for KatherineDeves4Warringah to around 4600. This is less than half of her opponent’s in the Warringah election, the independent Zali Stegall whose Facebook following is over 12,000.
Earlier this year, Ms Deves Twitter account @katherine_deves was shut down and her history mostly erased. [See some of @katherine_deves deleted tweets].
The candidate has received significant coverage in the period since she made her return to social media. Sky News has published (at the time of writing) 110 stories online on Ms Deves, including 80 videos. By comparison, Ms Stegall, has been mentioned 25 times in the last month on skynews.com.au.
The Sydney Morning Herald has also published more than 90 articles on Ms Deves, and she has been mentioned more than 30 times in the last month in the Daily Telegraph.
Crucially, during April the Sydney Morning Herald published more than 25 articles mentioning Ms Deves and Sky News posted 78 videos or articles to its page during this time.
Sky News has driven traffic to its own Facebook page through its coverage of Ms Deves. A video by Sky presenter Chris Kenny features scenes from Ms Deves’ introduction video from Facebook and has had close to 2000 Facebook interactions on Sky News’ Facebook page.
The coverage has driven search interest in her - Google Trends recorded maximum search interest on April 16, after the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison told media he stood by the candidate, whose views on trans athletes were now public.
Ms Deves launched her Facebook page on April 3 and uploaded her first post, a video, on April 10. This post has been pinned to her page and the video it features has been viewed more than 47,000 times.
The video and accompanying caption do not mention trans athletes, gender reassignment or any of the controversial statements from her now-deleted Twitter posts. But the comments on these posts go straight to the topics, endorsing the candidate’s views and citing research to support the anti-trans views shared by Deves in interviews and in reporting of her deleted tweets.
Users identifying themselves as being based in the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and New Zealand were among comment posters offering their support for Deves.
Liberal Randwick Councillor Bill Burst also offered his support to Deves, and has since posted an article on his own Facebook page celebrating a decision by world swimming coaches to ban trans athletes.
KatherineDeves4Warringah’s follower base has grown during the month of April when coverage of her candidacy and views was high.
As the graph above shows, she got a small bump in the number of new followers of her page in the week she was featured on the front of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Ms Deves has driven engagement through frequent posting of images of her at local events. Deves has also been posting meals at local businesses and eateries, often with endorsement-style captions;
To give me the stamina to be there for those of us who like to vote early, nothing beats a plate of delicious nachos from the Dee Why Hotel. 😋 #supportlocal
This post, more than a month after her page was launched, still attracted comments supporting her anti-trans stance, despite no mention of it at all on her Facebook feed.
Showbox coffee brewers, the Brookvale Hotel, Four Brothers espresso, Brookvale Chinese and a sushi bar at Warringah Mall shopping centre are featured in food-themed posts with the hashtag #supportlocal.
12:04PM - Endorsement from Amanda Stoker
5:16PM - post from Warringah pre-poll
5:35PM - Showbox Coffee Brewers on Whistler Street in Manly
5:43PM - 3rd grade game at Forestville Rugby Club
5:50PM - Posted photo of Steggal volunteers getting out of a Porsche
7:00PM - Brookvale Hotel
Total interactions on KatherineDeves4Warringah have leapfrogged those of Zali Steggal since the page was launched.
Deves’ only video has been viewed more than 47,000 times.
It’s difficult to say whether Deves4Warringah can sustain or carry this momentum to polling day - her post frequency is well below that of Ms Steggal’s, as is that of her user base.
Spikes in her acquisition of new followers came after sustained coverage in some press, and after one-off specials such as the Sydney Morning Herald front cover.
However, the electorate of Warringah voted 75-25 in favour of legalising same-sex unions in 2017, so it remains to be seen whether Ms Deves has captured voters attention, or just the attention of Facebook users.
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