Social media isn’t just fun and games anymore, notes North Carolina councilman Aidan J. Cassidy. More and more, it’s being used by politicians as a way of reaching out to the people they serve. An active social media presence is a must for today’s politicians, as it creates engagement with constituents and allows a politician to spread his or her message. Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Politicians can get the most from their profiles with these tips.
The Benefits of Social Media for Politicians
Aidan J. Cassidy has seen the benefits of social media first hand. As a city councilman in North Carolina, he has used both Facebook and Twitter to reach out to those in his district. People can connect with him through his profiles, letting him know about issues in the area or individual concerns. Based on his own experience, Cassidy notes, “Social media is a great way for politicians to engage with their constituency.”
The owners of the social web agency Toothless Tiger agree with Aidan J. Cassidy. Henriette Weber, the owner of the company, has stated that “there is no doubt that social media has the power to move votes.” It’s also an essential tool after the politician has won the election and is getting settled into his or her new role.
Staying active on the social media throughout his or her time in office is key to a politician’s success. It lets a politician see what’s on the people’s minds, while giving them reassurance that a politician actually cares about them and about the district, town, or state.
One of the best ways that politicians can use social media is by remaining active on the site, according to Michael Klein of Social Media Today. Don’t only reserve the use of your profiles for when there’ s a big issue at hand, such as an upcoming vote or election. Instead, post to your profile regularly.
Set aside time each day, such as 15 minutes in the morning and evening, to check in on social media and post something relevant. You don’t have to keep things political, though. People like to see that their politicians are somewhat normal. For example, President Obama’s tweet asking for no House of Cards spoilers went over well.
You don’t have to actually be at your computer or device to keep your social media accounts active, either. A program like HootSuite or Buffer can be ideal for busy politicians. Both let you schedule your posts in advance, so that your social media accounts are automatically updated throughout the day. Depending on the type of plan you get, you can have several team members manage the same account, which takes some of the stress off of you.
Respond to Comments
Social media isn’t the same as running a campaign ad or hanging up a campaign poster. People will most likely respond to the things you say and do on your profile. However, they might not always respond in a positive way or in a way that agrees with what you are saying.
Try to respond as much as you can to what people post your profile. If someone mentions in you in a tweet, take the time to respond to the tweet. Remember to stay levelheaded, even if the comments seem to be personally attacking you or appear overly negative.
It’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to people in your district or city and ask them to friend you or follow you on social media. In fact, following people in your area is a great way to show that you are actively engaged and that you care about what’s going on in their lives.
Control the Message
You might not always have the time to post to your social media accounts. It’s acceptable to have a team of staffers who handle some of the day-to-day responsibilities of your profiles, such as highlighting people you should respond to or handling responses to simple problems.
But, you need to be very careful about who has access to your profiles and what they say. Limit the number of people who can post as you or respond as you to a select few trusted individuals. Have a short training course with them, covering what can and can’t be said or posted on your profiles.
Ideally, these people will be on your team and will want you to look good to the world. However, you can never be too careful where your online presence and reputation as a politician is concerned, notes Cassidy. Review good ‘netiquette’ with your team to avoid flame wars or fights on your profiles.
Having a presence on social media lets your constituents really see the human, personable side of you. Remember that social media should be fun. Have a good time with it, and let the people who vote for you (or future voters) see that you’re a caring, in-touch politician, suggests Aidan J. Cassidy.
Thanks to Amy Freeman for her contribution in this article.