If the race for Auckland's mayor was won on social media, Chloe Swarbrick would leave everyone else in her digital dust.

The 22-year-old is the standout performer in the online battle to secure leadership of the council.

Despite entering the contest late as an unknown quantity with a limited budget, she has emerged as a popular candidate in the polls while engagement with her social media channels far surpasses that of her competitors.

In the latest Spinoff poll Swarbrick sits in fourth place on five per cent, one percentage point behind John Palino.


She has also energised and inspired previously disengaged youth to become interested in local politics.

Swarbrick told the Herald the secret to her social success was simple honesty.

"Given that I initially had no money whatsoever the big questions was how do I get the word out there... It made sense to use social media.

"Everything is coming from an honest place, and without sounding self-aggrandising people seem to engage with that.

"I've found the secret to being liked as a politician is just telling the truth."

Her day job is producing social media strategies for businesses, but she said her campaign breaks all the commonly held rules of the medium, including that brief is better.

"The biggest post I've had so far in terms of engagement was a video that was over eight minutes long. People are engaging with honesty and authenticity more than anything else."

She felt she had been excluded somewhat by the media, and that going online allowed her to counteract that.

"Social media lets me, as it does with all candidates, create our own content. What social media and the internet did was democratise information.

"People can ask questions and get answers in real time. One of the key fundamentals for me is being quite open and honest with it."

Although the majority of her online audience has been young people, Swarbrick said she isn't just aiming to engage one demographic.

"The majority is young people through social because young people are more inclined to use social, but I've had messages from 50 and 60-year-olds saying they're excited by my message.

"They've watched my interviews or have seen me at a debate and they're going to vote for me. Older people tend to be the ones who are sending me the more detailed questions which is brilliant because it allows me to go deeper into my policies."