How a bunch of tomatoes delivered Barnaby Joyce social media victory

It was a marathon campaign. 73 days of press conferences, door stops, high viz walk throughs, baby cuddling and peoples’ forums.

Originally published on Medium.

It was one of the longest federal election campaigns in Australian history. While the media scrutinized marginal seats, poll results and key battlegrounds like Western Sydney; there was another key battleground that was equally important, if not considerably more important: social media.

We here at Social Status love data. So we naturally decided to look into the world of Australian Federal politics on social media during the election campaign. We tracked all posts published by the official Facebook pages of the Federal politicians and political parties during the election campaign and what we found surprised us.

Looking across thousands of Facebook posts during the campaign there was one post that clearly stood out. With a 23% engagement rate, it was the single highest engaged post across all federal politician posts during the entire election campaign: Barnaby Joyce holding a $2 bag of tomatoes with the caption “Just catching up with a bag full of cousins at Bingara.”

For those not up to date with the ongoing Barnaby Joyce and Johnny Depp feud, this was the inciting incident on the Jimmy Kimmel Show about a week prior:

The moment in question is at 04:54

What clearly shone through was the off-script, unexpected approach in response to Johnny Depp being interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live calling Barnaby “inbred with a tomato”.

Barnaby’s ongoing feud with Depp cut through Mediscare, tax cuts, NBN and negative gearing. As Aussies, we love a bit of self-deprecating humor and I think as marketers and advertisers, we forget how powerful this national pastime is.

Facebook talk about creating “thumb-stopping” moments in the Newsfeed and what Barnaby published was the epitome of that. When you look at the proportion of Shares vs Total Interactions, you can clearly see this content had a huge amount of viral reach.

It was a great response, totally unexpected on the campaign trail and importantly the tone was Barnaby through and through. The post humanized him and cut straight through the election wallpaper posted by the majority of the other candidates.

How can you humanize your message and bring a bit of unexpectedness to your content strategy?

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