Social Media Is Considered a Luxury for Most Politicians?

by Affect Team on September 10, 2012

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Last week, I was speaking with a friend who works on the Hill about his general thoughts on social media and the Presidential election. We were discussing a lot of interesting points, however one point that stood out to me was when he noted that social media is considered a luxury to most people in politics.

He continued to say that big campaigns (i.e., the Presidential campaign) are able to do social media effectively (whether this is true or not is an entirely different blog post!) but state or city level social media activities are less likely to happen. (Obviously there are exceptions to this notion, but we’re speaking in general terms here).

This caused me to think, since my school of thought has been that social media is a cost-effective way to reach your audience and spread your messages, then why should it be considered a “luxury item” on the Hill.

The more I dissected all the components that go into an effective social media plan and strategy, it occurred to me that it’s not the lack of money that makes it a luxury, which is what I was originally thinking, but the actual Time needed to be effective. He was considering Time to be a Luxury.

It’s not a surprise to consider that the Time commitment required to work in politics is enormous; just take a look at Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent article in The Atlantic, Why Women Can’t have it All, which generated many different and heated discussions.

So I thought, why not give the Hill, politicians and my friend some social media momentum and provide some Time saving tips on how to set up or better a current Twitter handle (since this seems to be the most Time efficient platform out there, for now).

Set Weekly Goals:

  • Outline a Twitter specific plan, so you know the goals you need to meet. If your Time is limited perhaps you set weekly goals for the handle. For example, sending out 2-3 tweets per week, engaging with 2-3 followers per week or increasing your weekly followers by 10.

Leverage the “Big Guys”

  • Statistics show that during a major announcement, such as during the RNC or DNC, Twitter followers greatly increased for each candidate. I’m assuming you’ll be watching the major party announcements, so take advantage of this moment in Time and slip in a few minutes to gain followers. For local or state politicians this is an easy Time to increase your followers. Use the trending hashtags when engaging with your audience and follow the new Twitter handles that follow your party of choice, during these announcements. Be sure to follow back any new followers.

Be an Engager

  • Make an effort to be engaging. Most people in politics are using Twitter as a broadcast tool. The key to success is to engage with your followers. Immediately become someone who engages online, rather then following “old school” steps of status updates and broadcasting news. It’s your Time, jump in and start engaging now. Ask questions, point people to interesting articles about the issue or community.

Discuss News from the Hill

  • Monitor and examine how everyday news on the Hill can be leveraged among your followers. Look for key topics that your audience may not see in the news and share the information. Make it a point to send a tweet everyday based on something that’s current from the Hill.

Schedule your Tweets

  • The always-faithful tactic of scheduling tweets will help keep your Twitter handle active. Hootsuite, is just one of a few platforms that can help keep your handle active when you don’t have the Time. However, be sure to respond to any direct messages, as this is an essential function to maintaining an effective Twitter presence.

These are just a handful of timesaving points for Twitter, however if you’re eagerly looking to resurrect an old handle from a previous campaign or want to start a new one, there is one essential component that you should investment Time and thought into and that’s your a social media crisis plan. Taking a few days to work with your team or an agency to develop the appropriate social media crisis plan will only benefit you in the future, especially in politics. Check out our Social Media Success Series for tips on using Twitter for reputation management in time of a crisis.

There’s only 56 days left until voting day. Good luck to all those working on the Hill during this challenging election year and to everyone else, please make sure you get out and vote. Click here to register.

If you have additional time saving methods or websites to share tips about, please let me know in the comments section below.

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