by: Paul Bentz (@prbentz)
Social marketing is all the rage right now, and rightly so, because it gives customers an opportunity to talk about themselves and share what they are really thinking. The same rules apply to political social marketing as well – people want to talk about why they are supporting a particular issue or candidate.
As Team Obama has shown, a robust social media strategy is a great way to engage people who believe in a cause, but may not have the time or the inclination to volunteer. Not everyone is going to knock on doors or attend a rally, but if you can include your messages within their daily lives, they are likely to participate in spreading the word.
As such, it is no secret that a social media element should be front and center in all future campaigns. At HighGround, we help our clients with all areas of social marketing as well as the other campaign elements. We get it. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up.
Of the list of things we advise candidates and committees to do, there are a few social items that ironically fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” category. Here are 5 social media things that everyone should do (but I don’t):
1. Sharing regular twitter updates. For the most part, people want to know what you are up to, and if you engage in meaningful interactions, people will engage you back. Simple updates will not suffice, nor will just posting links to press releases. This can be really hard. I have been trying to do this one more often, which has helped since I installed ubertwitter on my phone. However, I find myself checking twitter more and more often and starting to retweet things that I don’t really care about. Finding your twitter “voice” takes time.
2. Updating your Facebook status. When it comes to a Facebook friend feed, you want to make sure you are providing valuable information on a regular basis to give people an opportunity to interact. However, you walk a fine line, because you don’t want people to get fed up and suppress your updates. Everyone has that one friend who updates their status way too often or posts cryptic messages just begging people to ask “what’s wrong?” I have to admit, personally, I am terrified of becoming that guy. I update my status about once a day, and I usually have to rack my brains because I want it to be something insightful or funny.
3. Sharing Pictures. Not only should you regularly share pictures from the campaign trail, but you should encourage others to do the same. Whether it is Twitpic, Facebook, or whatever, when you take digital pictures, your immediate inclination should be to go through some of them and post them online. Did you know that the iPhone is the #1 camera on Flickr? Most people have cut out the middle man and don’t even need to hook up their cameras to their computers to upload. If you have someone who can tag supporters, even better. As for me, I posted some vacation pictures about a month ago and my friends went crazy for them. I had more responses in one day than I had before or since. Provide people with content and they will respond.
4. Blogging. When you Google a candidate or an issue, what usually comes up? A large majority of the time, it is a blog posting that rises to the top. How many political blogs do you read on a regular basis (an issue I plan to cover at another time)? If you can provide value and information on a regular basis, blogging is a good way to build a body of work and a rapport with your audience. Blogging is a great way to share expertise and post your thoughts on the topic of the day. The irony, of course, is I am talking about the importance of blogging in HighGround’s third blog post ever.
5. Celebrating Victories. Social media is for sharing. People want to celebrate victories with you, especially when you celebrate with them. Too often, we allow this to be reduced only to Election Night, where the collective sigh of relief can overwhelm and overshadow the large number of accomplishments that a campaign has achieved. Earlier this week, one of the trending topics on twitter was wishing the music artist, Pink, a happy birthday. I have been trying to do my part, paying more attention to other people’s successes, wishing happy birthdays, etc. Last week when I was heading for a brief anniversary vacation with my wife, so selective twittered it as my status, I was shocked by the number of well wishers. Celebrating victories creates footholds for engagement.
As you can see, these items are fairly simple, and they cost more time than money. However, it is a process. It will take some time to work these elements into your regular routine and sometimes you’ll need help. We help our clients to build their social media presence every day, and in the process, sometimes my personal online persona suffers.