Today, more and more politicians are getting themselves in hot water for things they say or do online. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a little knowledge, foresight and attention, any political candidate can create and maintain a positive online presence that will enhance their overall political campaign.
Because there are so many potential online pitfalls, let’s focus on the most common errors that candidates make. These errors reveal a lack of online savvy and can often end up hurting a campaign or a candidate’s online reputation – and their chances of winning an election!
Assume You Have Any Privacy Online
First and foremost, anything you ever say, post or share online should pass the ‘New York Times Test’. That means, if you wouldn’t be comfortable with what you’ve done appearing on the cover of the New York Times, then don’t do it.
Try To Delete Material After the Fact
It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup that gets politicians in trouble. This seems to happens often with Twitter, though it can happen anywhere, even on an actual campaign website. A candidate or elected official makes a crude, rude or insensitive remark. Then they delete the post and pretend nothing happened. Unfortunately, social media posts can rarely be fully ‘deleted’ and pretending they never existed in the first place is silly.
If you must delete a post, do it, publicly acknowledge that you have done so, and move on.
Let Your Accounts Die Slow, Meaningless Deaths
If you start a social media account and promote it, you owe it to the people who follow you to keep your content fresh and up to date. People will either forget about you or wonder why they decided to follow you in the first place. Either way, it doesn’t leave a positive impression.
Bombarding your supporters (or worse, voters who are not actively following you) with automated or unwanted messages of any sort will only serve to annoy others – and can get you a reputation as a political spammer. Yuck.
The biggest offenders are politicians who purchase email lists and send out unsolicited messages. Even though political messages don’t actually fall under the CAN-SPAM act and are technically legal – it’s still spammy and generally unappreciated by the wider audience.
Quality over quantity should be the hallmark of your posts, Tweets or email updates. Tools like Twitterfeed allow you to automate posts so that they are spread out over time. However, preplanned posts tend to be impersonal and one-way. It takes the personal touch to get voters to know, like and trust a candidate.