Social media & politics: Visibility, reputation, and opinion

March 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

By now everybody knows that if you aren’t utilizing social media, you simply aren’t communicating.

If you don’t know that, chances are you come from that remote rainforest tribe they just discovered in the Amazon. But don’t worry, there is help out there.

For a politician, the meaning of this global trend is clear and the future is set. Social media is the landscape over which future races will be won and lost. The only problem is that social media is always changing. You’ve got to stay on top of it, and you’ve got to stay involved every day, around the clock.

The twin cornerstones today involve Facebook and Twitter—with a healthy dose of YouTube and blogging thrown in.

Facebook has become that ubiquitous place where many people around the world simply “hang-out” now instead of watching television, or while watching television, or while carrying their mobile phones throughout their day. Some people check it like people used to check their watches. It keeps the time of their customized personal world.

As a politician, you have to meet them there and entice them to your website where they can learn more information about your campaign and goals. It’s not enough to just have a profile or personal page, now a “fan” site is crucial to spreading your message easily and widely.

Twitter is another behemoth in the social media world—a place where you can give real time updates and personal interaction with your constituents. Any message you want, any time of day, can be sent out to your followers—but you won’t build a healthy following unless you engage with the medium and treat it with respect. The key word in social media circles is authenticity. That means steady and consistent updates direct from the source, as well as interaction that is meaningful and not simply glorified spam. People know the difference. What they want is the latest news without the filter of traditional media.

One reason traditional print media has been fading is because people are reading news stories there that they already read days or weeks ago on Twitter—it makes the old forms redundant and stale.

What you want is that when people Google your name—the social media channels that you control and have filled with content will be the top results. Search engine optimization is key.

Stay tuned for our next entry, which touches on You Tube and the fact that now, people don’t just debate your political television ad. They recreate it with endless remixes. You want to make sure that your message isn’t subverted and that you remain in control of your strategy and image.

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