Social media is a double-edged sword. It can be used to spread your message to millions of people, but it can also be used against you.
As much as social media can help your reputation, mixing social media with politics can also be a real curse that you wish you never brought on yourself. One bad move could stain your position as a politician forever.
What to be aware of and how to correctly go about your activity on social media then?
The Importance of Social Media in Politics
Social media platforms are one of the major marketing tools that companies use to stay relevant in this digital era. It has the power of reaching millions of people on a daily basis. Thus, it’s vital, not only for businesses but also for politicians, to build a presence on them.
In fact, many researchers from past years have proved the importance of social media as a key political communication channel.
With 4.2 billion active social media users globally, it’s considered essential that politicians know how to take full advantage of the benefits of these platforms correctly.
Digital advertising, including social media, is the second-largest marketing channel expenditure-wise for political advertising in the United States, according to Statista.
With this in mind, it brings a lot of potential to those who are brave enough to enter this area of promoting their political campaigns, views, and personas.
But how to do it?
Social Media and Politics: 5 Key Takeaways to Learn From
Running social media profiles as a politician is definitely not easy.
There are many traps waiting out there that you should be mindful of, such as trolls, haters, and opponents, to name a few. However, following some easy tips can make your whole experience a lot more pleasurable and, most importantly, less risky for your reputation.
Keep reading to find out how to best approach your social media efforts.
1. Respond promptly
Social media can be like a place of an accident sometimes – when an ambulance takes too long to arrive at it, the results can be tragic and irreversible.
Thus, you need to know the importance and value of responding quickly to messages and posts.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of minutes before one comment or post goes viral and damages your position in politics forever.
It could be fake news, trolls, or even your opponents throwing bullets at you – no matter where the source of a potential crisis is, you have to react almost immediately.
If you can’t always be on standby, it may be worth looking around for some social media crisis management specialists. They will know how to appropriately respond to potential crisis outbursts around your name. Such a person will be able to get you out of trouble quickly and effectively, minimizing the damage to your party and reputation.
How the American Red Cross dealt with a crisis
Here’s a great example of how something that could have easily turned into a massive social scandal was nipped in the bud – in a funny way, actually.
Sometime back in 2011, the manager of American Red Cross’s Hootsuite profile mistakenly published a post that was rather personal and inappropriate from the perspective of the company and its image.
The post quickly received many reactions:
Luckily, the organization promptly dealt with the mini-crisis. In just over a little more than an hour, the American Red Cross deleted the post and published the following statement:
Had these steps not been taken, the organization could have faced a massive reputation crisis. After all, who posts things like this on non-profit humanitarian organization profiles? Thanks to the quick response, this was avoided.
This is a great example of how to prevent massive scandals from happening so do keep it in the back of your mind for the future.
2. Monitor all channels
Being quick to respond is one thing, but don’t forget to monitor every possible place where people could talk about you or your party online.
Nowadays, Facebook isn’t enough. People are now increasingly more active on various platforms, sometimes multiple at once. These include Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and lastly, TikTok, which has reached the milestone of 1 billion monthly active users in September 2021.
Here’s Robert Biedroń’s TikTok profile. He’s a former envoy, current President of Słupsk city, and a Member of the European Parliament.
In just a little more than 1 year, he managed to steal the hearts of almost 600K followers on this platform. Such a large audience attracts many trolls, naturally, but it also gives him plenty of room to promote his campaigns, views, and more.
Perhaps you could give it a try as well?
Robert Biedron is just an example and there are similar political figures to him on TikTok. Edward John Markey, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, Mark Takano – to name a few.
Now, if you wanted to be up to date with the mentions on every single platform that’s out there, you would need to constantly monitor them. As you may assume, it’s practically impossible for various reasons.
How to track your online mentions in real-time
To stay on top of your social monitoring game, you could use a social media monitoring tool such as Determ to immediately get updates when someone mentions you, your party, a specific hashtag campaign-related, and more.
It’s a solution that will let you know about every article, hashtag, or comment about what interests you the most – all in real-time.
Thanks to features like website and social media monitoring, powerful search filters to fine-tune results, data analysis dashboards, and even custom alerts and digests – you will never be late to a digital crisis emerging around your name.
If you’re curious to find out what other benefits tools like Determ could provide, sign up today to get started!
P.S. You can also use this tool to monitor your opponents’ online situation.
3. Use ALL the networks
Moving on, let’s focus on what platforms you should be focusing on.
You may not realize it if you’re not a digital nomad that’s familiar with every social media platform, but your voters and supporters are literally everywhere.
TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and more – we mean it. With this in mind, you should never neglect the power of any social media platform.
Of course, it’s natural for most or a larger group of your supporters to be present on one platform, typical for their age group, but don’t forget about the minority!
Now, this obviously doesn’t mean that you have to be very active everywhere. Building a strong presence in places where your name matters the most, with also some focus on smaller areas, will be your key to success.
How to find the right platform for you
Generalize a little bit and look for patterns. Figure out who most of your supporters are. You could conduct primary research to find this type of information out. Are they Millennials? Or maybe Baby Boomers?
For example, research from the United States shows that Baby Boomers use YouTube and Facebook most often, so you may want to pay special attention to these two platforms. For Millenials, in addition to the two mentioned platforms, Instagram and Snapchat also play an important role.
With the appropriate level of research, you will be able to pick your main points of focus, as well as some other, smaller ones.
You could also turn to Determ and check out the sources breakdown for any topic of your interest. This will indicate what channels is your audience already using to discuss a certain matter, so it might be wise to focus your efforts there.
You’ve got quite a few networks to choose from, so pick wisely and start planning your campaigns on them now.
4. Create content daily
Once you’ve identified your key platforms to promote your political campaigns on, there’s one more thing you should remember about and that’s consistency.
Without it, your efforts will simply go to waste.
When you launch a campaign, it’s like an hourglass with sand quickly getting away from you. Every day without a post created is wasted. People are already spending enormous amounts of their time on the Internet anyway, so why not take advantage of it?
The more content you publish, the stronger your name recognition will be. This could result in increased supporter loyalty, new followers, or even a weakened opponents’ position, to name a few benefits.
A good example of someone who is more than ‘active’ on Twitter is the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
With more than 1 tweet every day, his supporters have a chance to regularly engage with him on social media.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough time to be active daily though. Luckily, there are marketing automation tools, especially social media management tools, that can do most of the work for you.
Having access to software like this could allow you to easily schedule campaigns in advance, post them to various platforms at once, and much, much more.
5. Learn to grow a thick skin
Finally, once you’ve started properly engaging with your supporters on social media, you will quickly realize that not everything is rainbows and butterflies out there.
You probably know that politics is a fragile topic and it attracts a lot of negative comments from trolls, especially within the online sphere, where people can be seemingly anonymous.
As a politician, you should learn how to ignore them and deal with them in a civilized manner. Growing a thick skin will not only benefit you in your online life but also in the real world.
How politicians deal with negative comments
For example, these are the types of comments that Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has to deal with:
If he started to respond to comments like this, he could possibly come across as unprofessional and, eventually, risk damaging his reputation.
Borris Johnson isn’t the only political figure that deals with this sort of stuff on a daily basis. Here’s another example. The victim of trolls, this time, is Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia:
Despite the number of all these hateful comments and reactions, these professionals don’t even try to respond and we recommend you do the same.
People tend to criticize the moves of influential people a lot, so be prepared for that.
Some General Tips:
- Know the difference between a spammer, a troll, and a persistent constituent.
- Keep in mind that the Internet doesn’t sleep and your actions will be monitored 24/7/365.
- Be clear, not clever – remember that your role on social media is to inform people, not entertain them.
- Aim to respond to a potential crisis within 48 hours.
- Take care of your security and prevent your accounts from getting hacked.
Over to You
You’ve reached the end of this article. We hope you enjoyed it and found it useful.
Social media and politics combined together are a tough nut to crack, so these tips will make your journey a little bit better.
With some patience, consistency, and the right strategy, you will see your position on social media grow substantially. Keep them in mind when you design your next campaign and who knows – maybe your next one will be the most effective so far?
Just like we mentioned, a very useful tool that will significantly help you is Determ. Do check it out if you’re looking to always be up to date with all mentions, important hashtags, and more.