Social Media and Politics

@Tim | Social

When last Tuesday’s special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for almost 50 years went to a little known Republican, there was little doubt his excellent use of social channel contributed to his historic win.  Since the blockbuster win by President Obama in 2008, it’s certainly not politics as usual when it comes to putting together a well oiled social strategy during the campaigning process and beyond.  For better or worse, the use of popular social channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc.) can help catapult a candidate’s message into the living rooms, laptops, and smartphones of their constituents with little cost to the campaign budget.  Below are a couple thoughts I pulled from the Scott Brown camp that should be used as the social pillars to any future bid for public office:

Socialize Your Message:

Facebook:  At a bare minimum, use a Facebook Fan page for things such as, general contact info, issues discussion boards, polling, event calendar, photos and videos.  To seed the growth, start with your campaign staff and use tools like Involver to help manage your page and explode growth.

Twitter:  Being on the campaign trail must be exhausting, but don’t give up your Twitter account to one of your campaign staffers. Be a religious Tweeter, tell your followers where you are, what your thinking, pictures of your events, links to a new blog entry, and most importantly reply back to as many people as you can… and be personal.

YouTube:  Create a YouTube Channel to post professionally edited event videos,      as well as ad hoc staffer videos using handheld digi

tal recorders like a Flip or Smartphone.

Blog:  For thought pieces, blog about your position on important issues, but keep them to less than 600 words.  Use tools like Disqus for commenting and get involved with the debate/conversation.

Hashtag# Your Movement:

For example, perform a Twitter search for #masen and you’ll see real time Tweets related to the Massachusetts Senate election from both the Brown and Coakley camp.  However, the Brown supporters created their own movement and incorporated the #41stVote tag.  This tag symbolized Brown’s commitment to opposing the current health care reform bill in the Senate, and may have been responsible for getting his message across state lines bringing in over $1.5 million in 11th hour donations.

Tie in Your Channels:

Make sure all your social channels are highly visible and create flow of fresh content through the body of your campaign homepage by using Twitter and Flickr widgets.  To help manage the social posting workflow on multiple channels, use tools like Seesmic or Hootsuite.

Once you Win:

This is where President Obama has been loosing ground  from his original grassroots effort.  It’s imperative to continue listening and communicating with the people who got you elected.  You can’t just lean on these social platforms during your campaign, as your followers will soon see through your strategy.  You must continue to curate your audience and bring their message to Capitol Hill.

For the record, so far Scott Brown has slowed considerably, hopefully he does not forget those who got him elected.