Nielsen has released its analysis of social media discussions around Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott becoming the next Australian Prime Minister, focusing on data from Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

“With many saying the race is neck-and-neck between Gillard and Abbott, the difference could be the influence social media has on voters who are yet to make up their minds,” said Mark Higginson, insights director of Nielsen’s Australian online division.

On Twitter, Nielsen reported that Gillard has a stronger presence than Abbott. Gillard tweets every few hours, uses Twitter to respond to concerns from the electorate and uses hashtags which increases the reach of her messages. Abbott, on the other hand, has not used Twitter since July 17 and did not use hashtags when he posted tweets – offering limited reach.

In terms of YouTube exposure, Gillard and the Labor Party have a dedicated YouTube channel. Uploads are made once a day. Channel statistics are: 208,473 views, 1,870 subscribers and the second most viewed YouTube site in Australia.

Abbott and the Liberal Party also have a dedicated YouTube channel. New uploads to the site are infrequent. Channel statistics are: 40,167 views, 715 subscribers and the 91st most viewed YouTube site in Australia.

On Facebook, both candidates have a page – Gillard has 62,938 fans and Abbott has 11,471 fans. Gillard’s Facebook page is updated daily and includes links to her YouTube videos and tweets. Abbott’s page has not been updated since 30 June.

“The most important element of social media campaigning is keeping current and Abbott’s lack of timely posts and relative absence from major social media channels has allowed Gillard to grab the social media spotlight and successfully engage with the electorate,” said Higginson.