Social Media in Politics

Social networking has changed the way we communicate, interact with brands and how political candidates effectively deliver their messages to their voters. It has the potential to shift society, to affect campaigns for every industry and help reach thousands of customers in a cost effective way. Social media is the answer to getting your message out, and best of all, a social presence means results and those results are measurable. It helps to create new relationships, retain loyal supporters, and deliver your campaigns message effectively to your constituency.

Proof in Action

I have had the opportunity to manage several politician’s social media strategies, to help build their online presence and ultimately recruit as many local constituents to their campaigns as possible. I worked for approximately 3 years for BC Environment Minister Mary Polak as her social media manager taking her social media from minimal to being named the 3rd most influential politician on Twitter in BC by Hill & Canada's PM Harper delivers a speech in OttawaKnowlton. Mary created this position for me in her constituency office in Langley and was the first MLA in the province to have such a position. Most MLAs who had bought into the importance of social media usually had their constituency assistants do it at the side of their desks.

Our goal was simply to be innovative about reaching the most number of constituents through social media channels whether Facebook , Twitter or any other sites. I have been actively engaged in politics since I was 14 years old or half of my life so I have gained insights and experience on the day to day life of politics.

What the Future Holds

As we enter into 2015 and begin to think about the upcoming federal election in the fall of 2015, we must reflect the present avenues of public discourse. Social media has opened the accessibility to our elected leaders significantly so we can tweet or comment and get a response or hours. Social Media has also enabled elected officials to engage the public on the most pressing issues of the day to hear what the public is saying about these issues. Social Media has also made politicians even more likely to make their public mistakes even more public. Their sharply worded tweet can be the next mornings headline if they don’t handle even response carefully.

Here are my top 5 tips for politicians, their staff and their upcoming campaign teams.

1) Always practise “safe tweeting”. Always think twice before posting or have someone else even a stranger look at your response to get their feedback

2) Have a social media strategy to identify your goals and objectives but also your main themes

3) Always answer. If you want your social media to be effective then please actually answer the question the best you can. Don’t give spin or a politician answer.2000px-Canada_Fed_election_2011_Ridings.svg

4) Be human. Don’t always post serious or issues based posts.

5) Use social media year round and not just during elections. This will ensure the public knows that your social media efforts are not just an election effort but a genuine effort to engage.

Social Media has the potential for political candidates to not only reach a wide range of constituents but also provide an opportunity for an ongoing dialogue in our modern democracy. While many commentators suggest that Obama won because of his online strategy including social media, his online strategy was part of a greater strategy to get a movement elected. Social media has the potential for incredible offline benefits so consider it and use it.

– This post was submitted by Todd Hauptman, a Public Relations Consultant, based out of Kamloops, British Columbia

 

Sean Smith

Sean is Managing Partner in ThatSocialMediaGuy.com, a Social Media consulting company based in Campbell River, BC. Sean has almost 20 years of experience in the IT industry, from a HelpDesk Manager to business owner. Sean has been active on Social Media platforms, since joining LinkedIn in 2005. Since then he has consulted on the development of Social Media strategies for a wide variety of businesses, from retail to tourism, instructed at workshops, been a guest and keynote speaker at various conferences, has been working as the tech/start-up author for Steamfeed.com and has recently become the Editor of the Social Media Camp Blog.

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