Earlier in the fall of this year, the controversial topic of legalizing same-sex marriage became front page news after the announcement of a nation-wide postal vote. The simply asked Australians whether they agreed or disagreed with legalizing same-sex marriage. Soon after this was announced, a clear divide in the country formed. The No versus the Yes campaign. Both sides using tried to use different forms of media to their advantage in order to persuade people. The No campaigners used several advertisements which aired on television and were posted online on YouTube.
Widespread and compulsory ad from the Australian Christian Lobby.
Advertisements like this tried to strike fear into the minds of conservative Australian by making outlandish statement about little boys wearing dresses and playing a same-sex couple in school theater programs. This and other advertisements focused greatly on the negative that would come from granted equal marriages rights to all sexualities in Australia. However, the Yes campaign had a different approach when it came to their social media use.
Younger generations of Australians took to their social media platforms in order to spread their influence and sway public opinion. For example, the website The Conversation did a study of the online Twitter polls that asked whether people support same-sex marriage or not. They found that despite some the numbers being slightly off or not including a lot of over 55-year-olds, the polls show support to always be leaning towards the Yes campaign. "It is acknowledged that the campaign Tweets will have influenced public opinion to some degree." This polls influenced a lot of young voters in Australian, despite its bias and probable inaccuracy.
Liam Hemsworth's Instagram post on Same-Sex Marriage.
The Yes campaign also targeted younger Australians through YouTube, but instead of impersonal advertisements they using famous YouTubers. Australian YouTubers like TrentandLuke and HeyoDamo, as well as American YouTubers such as MacDoesIt, recorded themselves and others reacting to the homophobic commercials. Just these three channels alone have a combined almost 1 million followers. Using the YouTube platform, those in favor of the Yes campaign could reach millions of people online for probably a fraction of the cost, with the possibility of sharing the video a million more times. It doesn't hurt that famous Australian celebrities also came out publicly in support of same-sex marriage which probably greatly persuaded fans of theirs, such as Liam Hemsworth who plays Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Trent and Luke along with their other YouTuber friends react to "No" campaign's classic television ad.
AutopilotHQ YouTube Channel.
The Yes campaign, also known as the Equality Campaign also used Autopilot in an effort to get people to say yes. Lee Steph, the digital campaigner explained how the Equality campaign used Autopilot to reach their goal of "getting out as many yes votes as [they] could." Autopilot is marketing program that was simple to use and easy to adapt to the needs of the campaigners. It allowed them to connect the dots, beginning with their pledge your yes vote register website than a series of reminders leading up to the vote. This platform allowed the Yes campaign to stay in constant communication with its supporters and subconsciously remind its supporters to also push other people into voting yes. It's a brilliant way of building support and keeping it. This along with strong social media influences are big factors in the resulting 61.6 percent victory for same-sex marriage in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald
As of November 29th of this year, the Australian Senate has officially passed the same-sex marriage bill 43-12 in favor of the bill. There is speculation that the bill could be finalized as early as the 5th or 6th of December, lining up with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's divisive comment to Parliament "Get this done, this year...before Christmas."
*As of December 7th, 2017 same-sex marriage has been officially legalized in Australia.*