This year’s General Election is the most online fought election we’ve ever seen, and unless politicians have been living under a rock, they should realise the powerful potential it has in allowing them voice their policies/opinions/general ramblings on the unsuspecting public. Even though only a small portion of voters may read a tweet or a facebook update, the mainstream media are guaranteed to be paying close attention, and no one will argue that their coverage is vitally important.
So seeing as a lot of the political parties are new to all this Web 2.0* stuff, here’s how it works.
*You shouldn’t call it that, or ever refer to the country as ‘Ireland 2.0′ or I’ll have to make fun of you like this again.
First off, Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows users to send short ‘tweets’ (140 characters). These ‘tweets’ appear on your page and in the feed of anyone ‘following’ you. Twitter has huge potential if used correctly and much higher levels of interaction than facebook, and is therefore an essential tool for all politicians.
- Get your candidates to sign up to and use Twitter to interact with voters. Most of the parties (and independents) are doing this quite well so far and a fair number of them are now tweeting away to their hearts content.
- Teach them to use it to interact, chat and reply to others.
- Show them what @ replies are and how to see their mentions.
- Explain what a retweet is and what it’s for.
- Explain what hashtags are and how to follow them.
- Show them how to access twitter from their phone and post twitpics.
- Use impartial hashtags like #ge11, #FG, or #SinnFein.
- Link to the twitter profiles of your candidates from your website (like this, not like this)
- Have a twitter feed appear on your website showing your latest tweets.
- Don’t use your twitter feed as a one sided micro-blog. Interaction is key.
- Don’t ignore hashtags like #rtefl, #vinb and #rte11, there’s a lot of opinions out there worth monitoring (and some not so worth monitoring).
- Don’t sign up and forget about it, get your candidates to use twitter at least once a day during the campaign.
- Don’t make up silly words like ‘twolicy‘. You’re politicians, leave the humour to the jokers.
- Don’t try and convince supporters to spam their followers with hashtags, this is annoying and will only promote more negativity than it’s worth.
- Don’t use hashtags like #votelabour, you’ll only end up starting a one-sided conversation because opponents won’t use it, keep hashtags neutral.
There’s probably no need for me to explain how big facebook is, but with over 1.6 active users, facebook clearly has an enormous amount of potential voters.
- Create a seperate facebook page (not profile) for your both your party and for each of your candidates.
- Get your supporters to ‘like’ the page to have it begin to show up in feeds.
- Consider facebook advertising as another means of attracting ‘fans’.
- Link to the facebook page of your candidate from their section of your website (like this, not like this)
- Post photos and videos of events on your wall.
- Allow ‘fans’ to post photos and videos also.
- Don’t set up personal profiles for politicians, having to be added as a ‘friend’ is an instant turn off.
- Don’t have supporters/campaign staff suggest the page to their friends. This will mostly be considered spamming and is not going to do you any favours.
- Don’t be too heavy handed when it comes to deleting opponents’ comments on the page. Use it as a debate platform instead.
- Supporters may choose to change their profile photos to election posters of their own accord, don’t ask them to.
- Don’t send millions of updates to your ‘fans’ about every single press release you issue.
So apart from facebook and twitter, what else should you be doing? Well, maybe try some of these:
- Take inspiration from other succesful campaigns and politicians. There’s plenty to learn from Obama’s succesful presidential bid that drew much media attention from its use of social media, and the UK has plenty of good ideas that you should keep an eye on.
- Use Audioboos, they are a fantastic easy to use audio message service that allows brief updates to be recorded on phone or pc at a candidate’s convenience. See the good example of Simon Coveney.
But not these:
- Don’t steal things from other sources and blatantly use them as your own without permission. You will get caught out.
- Be careful about everything you say, the internet keeps a record of everything.
Social Media is a lot like walking, tread softly and carefully as you learn and don’t be surprised if you trip up from time to time.
Categories: Politics, Tech
Tags: #ge11, audioboo, facebook, general election, howto, opinion, politics, social media, twitter
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