Despite what many believe, the vast majority of political campaigns across the U.S. are run on a shoestring budget, under limited time constraints and with minimal help. That is to say, people running for office are both insane (this is fact) and pressed for time, money and patience. Every dollar, and every minute should be budgeted toward a singular and unwavering goal – to win. And just because Twitter is free, doesn’t mean every campaign should use it.
The only question that matters, for political candidates, is can Twitter help you win and, if so, how?
The answer to that question is maybe, which I realize is an entirely unsatisfactory answer. But, it’s honest. And, before you commit time and resources to Twitter, you’ll want to a better answer than that. To find out if Twitter is right for your campaign, ask yourself these questions:
- Are the voters in my district on Twitter?
- Are local/regional journalists using Twitter?
- Will you have time to Tweet every day, multiple times a day?
- Can you handle negative response?
- Are you prepared to act like a real human being on Twitter?
If you answered “Yes” to all of the above questions, Twitter can help you win.
You have a population of people who are already using Twitter for regular communications and information. You’ll have direct access to area journalists and you have the time and energy to tweet with voters and members of the media alike. Importantly, you have either the disposition and experience, or someone on your staff who does, to handle a negative Twitter response or campaign. You also know how to leverage the medium in a crisis situation. And finally, and most importantly you recognize the absolute necessity of being a real live human being on Twitter. You know social media success relies on your willingness to be honest, open and direct with your audience. Congratulations, Twitter is a perfect fit for you and your campaign. Stay tuned for part II of this series: “Congratulations, You’re On Twitter. Now What?”
If you answered “No” to any of the above, the answer is still maybe.
If the answer to #1 is no, then walk away. Political campaigns simply don’t afford enough overall time for you to cultivate a Twitter community from an audience new to the medium. You can use your time more wisely and effectively in other areas. If area journalists are not on twitter, or if your particular district is not often covered by area news outlets, it’s not the end of the world. As long as you have an audience of voters to speak to, you should still strongly consider using Twitter. Unless, that is, you don’t have the time or motivation to tweet regularly. Tweets don’t Tweet themselves. Once a week, isn’t going to cut it. Every day, multiple times a day is your goal. Additionally, if you aren’t sure that you know how to handle negative responses (or have someone on staff who does) you might want to either find someone who does or reconsider using Twitter. The only thing worse than not addressing a negative attack online, is addressing it poorly and making it worse. Finally, if you intend on using Twitter for nothing other than self-congratulatory and self-aggrandizing comments, do us all a favor and just say off Twitter. You’ll wear out your welcome too soon to make it worth your time.
If you answered “No” to most or all of the above, Twitter is not going to help you win your election.
You can go ahead and break the news to your overly-excited nephew who is the only person in your town on Twitter and who swears he can Tweet you to a victory that you are not going to waste your time and resources on Twitter for this election cycle. Maybe next time…
|About The Author:
Robert J. Munson is a marketing and public relations strategist based in Baton Rouge, LA. His firm, RobertJMunson, specializes in modern marketing strategies including social media marketing, content marketing and corporate social strategy. Follow Robert J Munson on Twitter.