Social Media and Montana’s Road to 2012… or… Your Doing it Wrong!

By CFS

Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming a part of people’s daily life and when it comes to politics, social media is an indispensable tool for organization, spreading information, and connecting people of like-minded attitudes.  But few politicians are actually making good use of these new tools.  Rather sadly, many politicians are using the tools to their own detriment or are simply using them to insulate and shut out criticism.

 

Here in Montana, politicians are beginning their primary pushes which means the long process of building a support network and raising funds, and in today’s age that means using twitter and Facebook to directly connect with as many people across the state as possible.  But so far this cycle our would-be political representatives seem a bit clueless.

Here are my suggestions of how our crop of Montana politicians can use social media effectively:

  1. Engage, engage, engage.  If you are using Twitter as a repository of press release like boring links, don’t even bother… I’m looking your way @DennyRehberg.  Twitter is a continuous conversation, be part of it, open your ears, and actually have a back and forth.
  2. Get rid of the staff.  I know social media can be a time-suck, but it is disingenuous to represent yourself on twitter and have a staff be the one tweeting.  If its overwhelming, have two accounts, one for the campaign run by a staffer, and a personal account that is solely yours.
  3. Don’t mass follow people… it just looks desperate and is akin to what sleazy internet marketers do.  That means you Franke Wilmer, who followed me the other day.  The first politician to seek me out for a follow.  Your followers, whether on Twitter or Facebook should come organically and not be sought after.  If you are a good candidate people will naturally gravitate to you.
  4. Make it personal, but not too personal.  Followers should feel as though they have an in on who you are and what your campaign is about that they can’t get via the television news, blogs, or newspapers.
  5. Google search for James Knox (R) Billings.  Look at his use of social media, then proceed to do the exact opposite.  Threats, crazy assertions, and lying in the social media sphere only get you ridicule and draw people’s attention who then quickly tear your arguments apart and make you look like the fool you are.
  6. Have a filter.  Before you hit that send button, think for a second whether you really want to put what you just typed out their.  As a politician you should realize that many of your followers are probably reporters, bloggers, and political insiders that will make as much noise and trouble for you given any opportunity.
  7. Be creative and witty.  Social media is geared to short bits of information, and to get attention you need to put out creative and authentic updates, being boring will kill you.
  8. Finally, study what people have done right.  For Montana, that means taking a look at how state legislators Ellie Hill, Bryce Bennett, and Mike Miller have used social media, especially during the hectic legislative session.  They were the best source on how things were shaping up at the capital and even during the busiest of times, kept their followers in the loop on legislative developments.  For my money, they are the best examples of politicians using Twitter effectively.

Other than that, good luck to all our candidates, except for Denny Rehberg, may Tester bitch slap you with his two-fingered hand.

For those of you interested in getting more information on our crop of Montana candidates take a look at the list I have compiled below.

Senate:

John Tester (D): Campaign site, @jontester, Facebook
Denny Rehberg (R): Campaign site@Rehberg2012, Facebook

Congress:

Franke Wilmer (D): Campaign site@Franke4Congress, Facebook

Dave Strohmaier (D): Campaign site@DaveForMontana, Facebook

Steve Daines (R): Campaign site@DainesforHouse, Facebook

Kim Gillan (D): Campaign site

Governor:

Rick Hill (R): Campaign site@RickHill2012, Facebook

Ken Miller (R): Campaign site, Facebook

James O’Hara (R): Campaign site, Facebook

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  1. [This is good]

    I would only add that lobbyists and activists should be following many of the same rules you lay out here.

  2. Rep. Mike Miller

    Thanks for the kind words and good advice, CFS.

  3. Let’s not turn this place into MTCowgirl and create fake controversies like “mass follows on Twitter”.

    Besides that, maybe you should look at what your favorite candidate did the night before announcing before calling someone else out on some ridiculous non-issue.

    It’d be nice if Democrats could keep to things like qualifications and issues rather than grading them on their grasping of twitter and facebook.

    • Cafreestupidity

      Controversy?

      And who would my favorite candidate be? I hope you don’t think it’s Denny.

        • Cafreestupidity

          What just because I let him post something here? I know Dave personally, and yes, I would love to see a candidate from Missoula represent Montana in Congress, but at this point I haven’t made up my mind on who it is I like. He asked if he could get a write up and i did him a favor. So don’t presume to think you know what is inside my head.

          As for the controversy, I’m not trying to drum any up. I’m just calling it like see it and so far I’m not impressed by anyones grasp of the platform. Though I did have a nice little chat with someone after my post that makes me think that Franke Wilmer will be the D candidate that leads the pack.

          • i think the media is still being born. nobody really has figured out a way to use it to its potential (not even the inventors) and it is too early to really gauge what effect it will have in the near future.

            . but i agree with cfs that proficiency in twitter (i hate the bug-filled and big brother surveillance of facebook) is going to be necessary far into the future and should be taken more seriously by candidates.

            i mean, haven’t any of our genius leaders figured out that it might be time to take twitter more seriously.?

            if whole revolutions can be started (egypt, etc) which topple countries it might be something that could help them to not just reach out to constituents but to galvanize their support in a simple election.

            in just a brief scan of each candidates twitterfeed, it appears that nobody has mastered the art yet in montana.

            the mayor of portland seems to get it very well. http://twitter.com/#!/MayorSamadams

            maybe it is time our mayor tried it?…….

            • carfreestupidity

              One reason I’m a big proponent of twitter is because of the nature of Facebook. Anything posted to Facebook stops being yours and is owned by Mark Z. I don’t agree with that model and so have switched almost completely to twitter, which (at least for the moment) is much more open and conducive to an interesting exchange of ideas.

              Also, for me, Facebook is much more reflective of where I have been in the past while twitter is reflective of my current state of mind and what I aspire to.

          • You said Franke somehow mis-used twitter by mass following people. Your guy Strohmaier did the same thing the day before he announced.

            • carfreestupidity

              there is a big difference between between 1800 and 200.

              • in your eyes.

                Franke is in the legislature. She works at MSU. She’s worked on human rights at an international level.

                Would she likely have more people to follow when she starts up her “for congress” account?

                I’d think so.

              • carfreestupidity

                Point taken jhwygirl. Anyway, I wasn’t attaking her campaign with any malice, missing Dave’s mass follow was an oversight on my part.

  4. lizard19

    twitter only appealed to me after i made the leap with my iphone. i’m a total newbie, and Duganz took pity on me, explaining a few of the basics. as usual, i’ve got a lot to learn (@madpoet19)

    i agree with pbear, the rules are still being written. and if there are etiquette violations, it looks like CFS might be on the beat to act as referee. #goodluckwiththat.

  5. DS

    You need to add Corey Stapleton to that list…. as he’s running a tight second with Rick “I’ve got a fetish for Mermaids” Hill.

  6. Frustration

    ‘”Your” doing it wrong’ – my doing it wrong? What do you mean? I don’t own a doing-it-wrong.
    OH, you must have meant YOU’RE doing it wrong. As in you are doing it wrong.
    Learn a little bit about grammar before you become a blogger.

  1. 1 Montana Governor 2012: Social Media Contrasts | montanafesto

    […] blackbirds  recently posted “Social Media and Montana’s Road to 2012…. or Your (sic) Doing it Wrong”. Although I disagreed with a few of the blogger’s liberal-leaning critiques, the bulk of the […]




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