Social Media Tips for Politicians

dezguy
Michael Klein CEO, Meshy Communications Inc.

Posted on August 12th 2012

Social Media Tips for Politicians

With every election there seems to be increasing numbers of politicians jumping into social media to connect with potential voters. The younger generation have been at it for years, but we are starting to see more well-established politicians throwing their hats in the social media ring.

Social media is a major tool in the modern-day politician’s arsenal. It provides an opportunity to connect with voters on a one-to-one basis without the need to walk for hours around the neighborhood. Yet, despite it’s positive potential, social media can also be a metaphorical nail in the coffin for those politicians who fail to use it properly. Everywhere you look there seems to be case studies of ‘what not to do.’

Provided below are some tips for the social media newbie politicians. If your local politician does not ‘get it’ yet, please be sure to mail them a link to this article.

Be personal

Make sure you have a complete profile. It should have a recent photo, contact information and interesting information about yourself. Try to make your profile reflect who you are. Nobody wants to see the Twitter egg or some generic profile. Your social media profile is as important as your billboard photo. It’s where people virtually ‘get to know you.’ Transparency is also important. List your views and political viewpoints. People will respect you being up front with them.

Refrain from shouting

Social media is not a space where you should get up on your platform and blast your message out. Treat it as a place to connect with folks on a one-to-one basis. Think of it as more like a telephone vs. a megaphone. You would never phone up your friends and just start talking as loud as you can AT the other person. Don’t do this on Twitter or any other social media platform.

Also, save the bragging for your press release. You would never walk into a cocktail party and just start talking about how great you are. Social media is all about the soft sell.

Commit

Do not come on social media, blast a tweet out and then be silent for six weeks. If you are going to commit to it, make sure you’ve allocated enough time in your schedule to be able to engage at a meaningful level. Nobody expects you to tweet at 3 a.m., but realize that the conversation is happening all day, every day. Sometimes this might require you to be active on a Saturday or tweet a response on Sunday night. If a twitstorm starts on a Saturday night, you may not be able to wait until Wednesday to respond. Don’t be that person who responds three weeks later.

Help Others

The world (or at least the city or State) is watching you. Why not help others with your audience by provided a few caring re-tweets. Helping others is an unassailable position. Even if you do it wrong, you still do it right.

Expect conversation

When you tweet or post, expect it’s going to lead to a conversation. If you don’t want to have the conversation, please don’t start it. Imagine phoning a voter, stating a fact and then hanging up. You wouldn’t win many friends that way.

Don’t ever blame ‘the hackers’

If you accidentally tweet a photo of your backside or say something ludicrous please don’t blame it on ‘the hackers.’ Learn how to use your computer or cell phone well enough that this won’t happen. Own your account and be accountable.

Do you have other tips for politicians? Please add to the comments and lets produce a comprehensive list.

Mike Klein (@dezguy) is the CEO of http://www.meshy.ca a Saskatoon-based online marketing and social media company.

dezguy

Michael Klein

CEO, Meshy Communications Inc.

Marketing strategist and designer with an interest in all things social. Recently launched Meshy Communications to help organizations figure out how to market in the mesh.

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Comments

dezguy
Posted on August 12th 2012 at 6:52AM

What other tips would you suggest? Let's create a comprehensive list.

Sandra Tedford
Posted on August 14th 2012 at 7:36PM

Responding to people.  Showing concern and assuring others you are working diligently to tackle the issues the same way you would if the cameras are rolling. 

ahannan
Posted on August 12th 2012 at 3:40PM

Mike:

I think you have hit on the key points for me which include transparency and authenticity. My foremost must is listening to the constituency in a conversational manner rather than only broadcasting political messages or platform bullet points. 

Thanks, happy to share on LinkedIn 'Politics and Social Media' group.

Anneliz Hannan

 

dezguy
Posted on August 13th 2012 at 3:16AM

Ahannan,


'Listening' is a great one to add to the list!


Thanks for the discussion,

Mike

jmjyiannis
Posted on August 12th 2012 at 5:51PM

Very good article dear Micheal.

I think that Politicians should KNOW THEIR AUDIENCE. Many of them, as I see, just use the new "communication tools" because it is a new trend without understanding the percentage that their audience use the same tools.

Politicians who have influence on 60+ voters, think that suddently by using social media tools, they will have some connection with younger people.

dezguy
Posted on August 13th 2012 at 3:15AM
Jmjyiannis,

I totally agree. Knowing your audience is key in any marketing. Whether online or off.


Thanks for reading,

Mike

Kent Ong
Posted on August 13th 2012 at 12:56PM

The most important thing for a politician to be successfully on social media is to be honest!!!

dezguy
Posted on August 13th 2012 at 2:46PM

Kent,


So true. There really are few secrets anymore.

 

Cheers,

Mike

MikeGRad6
Posted on August 15th 2012 at 3:43PM

Michael,


First off, nice article. Having been an assistant to cabinet ministers and a political operative in New Brunswick, I can say that I don't see all of these rules being adopted by individual politicians. What you describe is the ideal social media plan for private business and in my experience it isn't one size fits all.


That being said, I think that the model you describe can be transplanted to the world of politics but there is one piece of the puzzle - that heretofore has been hidden from view - and that is the concept of the "community team." Politicians don't always have time to tweet and post to Facebook - especially Cabinet Ministers. However, the role of Community Manager can be rolled into an Executive Assistant's responsibilities and can co-ordinate messaging etc. with a primary Community Manager at the party office.

 

Great read Michael, it got me thinking this morning!

Mike Girard
Community Engagement, Radian6