Earlier this week, I wrote a piece mocking Thom Tillis’ twitter remarks. Tillis periodically posts stupid comments on twitter that are usually all about him or all about his perception of his Senate race. That said, Tillis is far from the only politician who doesn’t understands how to properly use social media. 

Let me help. 

For most campaigns, the primary mediums in social media are Facebook, twitter, email and webpages. There are additional platforms or sites like Google Plus, Linkedin, Youtube, and others, but most campaigns will get the biggest bang for their buck using those four tools. Each has a different use and application.

The two most commonly confused platforms are Facebook and twitter. Too many politicians use twitter like a Facebook status in 140 characters. It’s not. Twitter is primarily for sharing and gathering information. Conversations may take place about certain links but it’s not a good place to solicit comments or make random observations that have little relevance to one of the broader conversation happening in a twitter feed. It’s a public conversation with lots of voices and opinions.

In addition, twitter is where you will find the journalists. Most spend a fair amount of time posting and conversing. Using hashtags, it’s a great place to quickly distribute information to a broad audience and drive people to a primary source, such as a newspaper or news site. For politicians, it’s a place to make smart or funny comments on the news and to get relevant information to relevant people. 

Facebook, on the other hand, is a place for your friends and supporters to gather. While people of all stripes are reading your tweets, Facebook is a gathering place for your most ardent supporters. They want to hear what you have to say, so you don’t need to be relevant to any other conversation because you are the subject.  

Email is a way to privately talk to people who are interested in your campaign. Most are supporters but you can be sure that your opponents are on your list, too. The trick to email is making it relevant without being spam. It’s not a great place to give long campaign updates. Instead, it’s a great place to give people a way to participate in your campaign without exerting too much effort. 

For the most part, your email list, if you’ve built it properly, is composed of true believers who want to help you and would like to be involved. Help them out. Ask them to sign a petition in support of legislation you like or have them email a legislator or Member of Congress. It will make them feel useful. And if you make them feel relevant to the campaign, they will reward you with low-dollar contributions, which you solicit through email. 

If you feel the need to keep people informed of your campaign’s progress, start a blog on your website. Let people know when you post through Facebook and twitter. For people who care, they’ll find it. For people who don’t, they won’t unsubscribe to your email list because you’ve turned into spam. 

I’m sure other people can give better assessments and I’ve left out a lot but that’s my take on the basics in less than 750 words. So if you decide to critique your opponent’s campaign or ads on twitter while everyone else is talking about something else, I’m probably going to ridicule you. On the other hand, if you want to let your supporters know about an attack ad and what they can do about it, tell them in an email and post it on Facebook. Social media is a powerful tool but only if you know how to use it effectively and make the investment to make it work. Call me if you need a hand.

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