Last week, I reported on Hillary Clinton joining her husband Bill for a very light jaunt onto Twitter. On June 10, the day Hillary joined Twitter, Warren Buffett welcomed her to the popular social network. That is a verified @WarrenBuffett, not a fake account.
Like Hillary and Bill, Warren is VERY popular. He's added 509,000 followers since he first tweeted on May 2, 2013. He tweeted twice that day. His third tweet was on June 10. He has not tweeted since then AND for some reason his tweet welcoming Hillary has been deleted from his timeline. It is funny, you can still see his tweet on its permalink page, but not on Buffett's timeline.
Regardless, Buffett, like the Clintons, has over half a million followers.
Buffett has not tweeted since he welcomed Hillary Clinton and having removed that tweet from his timeline, he's not really tweeted since his first day. So why did he even bother creating a twitter account? Perhaps he wanted to protect the screen name from squatters or nefarious satirists. Perhaps he thought he was going to tweet? Perhaps he hired someone to tweet for him.
But now that he has a Twitter account, why is he wasting a channel that already has a half a million audience? Maybe he hasn't worked it into his daily routine yet. Maybe the kid he hired to tweet for him ran off with a sweetheart.
Perhaps Buffett thinks his Twitter audience is too small compared to the size of TV audiences he garners. But how often does he do that, really? Other media opportunities are filtered, unlike Twitter. And with a little tweet activity by Buffett, he could easily build his audience to millions in short order. Bottom line: regardless of his reasons, Buffett is truly wasting a valuable asset.
And that is the real question: Why don't some folk, especially smart folk like Buffett and the Clintons, appreciate the power of Twitter? And I don't mean its power to broadcast unfiltered messages to a mass audience. They get that, usually. But that's just barely scratching the surface. People like the Clintons and Buffett should use Twitter for conversations, public and private, with their peers, national and world leaders, as well as their customers and constituents. These conversations offer tremendous PR and logistical value.
But most valuable is using Twitter to facilitate conversations among those in your audience and beyond about your ideas. Tweet an interesting idea. Have a Twitter conversation with a few people-peers and constituents-about your idea. Then feed a wave of people sharing and talking about your idea as it spreads across the country.
While conventional wisdom acknowledges that social media is now an essential part of politics and advocacy, the fact is we have a long way to go before that is true in actuality. Many of our most visible political and business leaders still don't take full advantage of social media. The Clintons and Buffett are examples.
For now, those candidates and advocacy campaigns that use social media most effectively have the advantage. Those that use it poorly (or not at all) are handicapping themselves. Someday soon, enough politicians and advocacy groups will use it well that not using social media won't be an option.
I keep pushing for that day to arrive.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.