Candidate Dos and Don’ts for Social Media
Politicians are increasingly forced to utilize social media. Often times that means delegating Twitter accounts and Facebook posts to young interns or political aides who actually know what they are doing. While that may be easiest for a campaign, some of the advice out there suggests politicians should take on that role themselves:
While aides and PR people are great for managing many dimensions of your communications, they shouldn’t be managing the bulk of your social media presence. The reason? Social media inherently blurs the line between public and private, and exists at the fulcrum of what you want the public to see and what they will see. This might sound disconcerting to a politician who’s used to having iron-fisted control over her image, but letting go of some of the carefully scripted dialog and picture-perfect hair might just make you more real, and more vote-able, to the public.
There are inherent risks, of course. I’ve been watching one particular candidate, Greg Strandberg (running for HD 98) incessantly commenting all across the Montana blogosphere. Strandberg does maintain a campaign blog but it’s his commenting presence at other blogs that I find most interesting.
Strandberg might do well to read up on the advice at the previous link. Here is some particular advice I’ll draw his attention to:
Again, because of that grey area between public and private that social media inhabits, it can be difficult to navigate what’s “right” to post and what should remain offline. There is no easy answer, as each situation calls for a different response. But a good rule of thumb is to be yourself – insert your opinions, your personality, and some tidbits from your daily life that voters might want to know – without going overboard. Generally, avoiding overly negative comments, even those that you think might help to smear your opponents, is best on social media. You just can never tell how your followers will react.
I’ve noticed several comments made by Strandberg that—if he was a serious candidate—will probably come back to haunt him. The most glaring mistake Strandberg made was calling Montanans stupid. Unfortunately I can’t remember which blog he made that comment at, but I have a feeling someone like Craig Moore could find it pretty easily (Craig is quite good at finding old statements and reminding us bloggers that writing online sticks around and can be used against us down the road).
Another more recent comment Strandberg made at Montana Cowgirl ensures I will never vote for him. Here it is:
You have to realize people that work for non-profits, political groups, and other ‘organizations’ often can’t do anything else. It doesn’t matter what party they adhere to and take money from – they can’t contribute to society in meaningful ways. —Greg Strandberg
If Strandberg wants to actually inform himself about how nonprofits absolutely do contribute to society in meaningful ways, he should read this op-ed by United Way CEO Susan Hay Patrick. I wrote about this topic recently. If Strandberg took the time to, you know, actually read the posts instead of just rubbing out comments all the time, maybe he would be a better informed candidate for office.
I know Strandberg isn’t shy about giving advice, considering he had this to say in response to my post about buying a gun:
If you’re so concerned about the fate of society’s future, why not try to take some constructive actions to change it, not what would only lead to destructive outcomes?
Writing a blog doesn’t really cut it. Sure, you can get your ideas out, but mainly your just preaching to the converted. I don’t know what your traffic is, but I don’t think there’s any substantive policy changes coming about because of it.
Wouldn’t running for city council be a more concrete step toward ensuring violence doesn’t reach your family? If you do a good job there you might be able to move up to a higher office.
Of course that’s not as easy as buying a gun, now is it?
I’m just returning the favor ;)