Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Five Social Media Tips for Politicians

It's political season, and my social media streams are suddenly bulging with politicians I haven't heard from since the last time they had an opponent. It seems word has gotten around that social media is powerful, but no one bothered to share how to use it.

So, as a person who manages social media for clients, I'm going to share a few tips specifically for politicians. Yes, I'm giving away information - consider it my contribution to your campaign.

1. It's "social" media - not the place for you to just drop into on a whim and expect people to fall at your feet. If you haven't been in this space for weeks, months or years, maybe since the last time you were campaigning, you better approach me gingerly. I will "unlike" your facebook page so fast it will make your head spin. You know, I can see what you've posted previously. If it's nothing but fundraising, you're gonna lose me. Quickly. You don't have to visit with every person, although that would be nice, but you can post something more interesting.

2. Do not ask me for money in your first interaction with me. Would you walk up to me at a gathering, introduce yourself, and ask me to donate all in the first breath? I hope not. If all you post on social media is fundraising, that's what it's like.

3. This is a good place to share what you're doing - where you're appearing, what's happening in your campaign, what you think about the news topic of the day, a photo of your trusty dog, etc. Then, once I know you, and care about you, you might mention it would be helpful if I gave you money.

4. People always want to see "behind the scenes." I don't care what business you're in, that's what people want to see (Okay, maybe not if you're in the hog rendering business.) If you're a politician, this is a great place to offer some kudos to your volunteers, show us a photo of your campaign office, or some other insight into who you are.

5. Photos are powerful. Videos are powerful. (Don't tell me you didn't notice Old Glory up there at the top of this post.) Make some of them about something other than you raising money.

If you don't have time to be on social media regularly, either hire someone to do it for you or consider if it's something you should be doing. You hire people to make brochures. Your Facebook page will probably reach more people. Think about where you're putting your money. (This does not mean you have to hire me, it means you have to think about what you're doing and if it makes sense.)

Yes, social media is powerful. It can also be a detriment if you don't use it well. Those of us who are in the space all the time think that if you can't manage this, you might not be able to manage whatever office you're running for very well either.

There are about a jillion other things I could say, but these few tips should get you started.

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