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On social media, Know Thyself

Sometimes you have to look back at where you were to gain appreciation for, or even an actionable understanding of, where you are. Sometimes data is a useful tool for action, and well, sometimes it’s not.

Earlier this week I took an interest in some old blog posts of mine, half-hoping to gain insight on where I stand, in much the same way as analytics should for social media campaigns, and I found just what I was looking for.

I stumbled across an old article of mine, a poorly written diatribe on the “real” Mitt Romney, the Mitt who the general public never got to know. It reminded me of two things – one, in many ways, I’m still the same guy I was a year ago, and two, you shouldn’t waste time trying to be something you’re not.

Sure, this may sound like common sense, but from the looks of a number of social media campaigns, these words of wisdom seem to be far too rarely abided by.

Too often, social media managers spend time in the retrospective; too often, self-proclaimed “social media gurus” dedicate hours to needless over analysis of others’ previous experiences.

This, of course, is not to say that excess time is spent on analysis, but that too much time is often dedicated to poor methods of analysis. If this was a nonpartisan phenomenon, I’d care less, but it seems to be a plague of sorts whose hardship is felt primarily by those aligned with the GOP, especially local and congressional Republican candidates.

You see, most social media savvy Democratic operatives don’t have this problem; they’re good at being themselves; they’re good at knowing their beat and sticking to it. Republicans, on the other hand, are spending too much time rubber-necking their social media opposition and unconfidently looking back at their own half-hearted attempts at social media “engagement”.

So what’s the solution? I say it’s “Know thyself.” Again, this seems like common sense, but it’s far too infrequently practiced.

In fact, it’s practiced so infrequently that, in most cases, analysis of any particular GOP candidate’s social media activities is a fruitless endeavor. Accordingly, in most cases, the best course of GOP social media action ought to be to act first and analyze later.

So what should you post, and who should you “talk” to? Why not start with what your followers take interest in. Rather than counting “likes,” your best bet would be to get to know your candidate, to get to know who your fans “like,” what they eat, where they hang out, what they read, how they breath, etc, etc…, and then incorporate postings about such things into your social media attack.

After you’ve done this consistently, after you’ve clearly articulated, through a number of social media platforms, who your candidate is and how he relates to his or her base, after you’ve relentlessly, digitally attacked the jugular vein of you opposition, then you can analyze, but to do so any earlier would be akin to putting the cart before the horse.

Patrick Kelly works at Individuals for Capitalism

Oct 3

What’s in store?

Thank you all who took the time to respond to last week’s #polichat question! 

With over 75% of the votes, a weekly newsletter with must read articles, resources and reviews was the top vote getter.

A close second and third were Twitter Q&A with digital professionals and a blog responding to questions from Twitter using the #polichat hashtag. 

We will work to implement all three — gradually. 

Looking forward to taking these next steps.You will continue to find the latest news here. Please do not hesitate to email with any suggestions or feedback!

9/16 Questions

1) What services do you recommend match your email list with social media accounts? 

2) What are the positives and negatives you anticipate when Instagram launches ads?

Digital Strategy vs. Just Posting All the Things

After getting spanked in the 2012 election, and after what seemed to be an endless array of autopsies and postmortems all saying that one of the many, many, many things the Democrats kick our asses on is when it comes to digital media, it astounds me that so many on our side think digital means just “posting things on the internet.”

Yes, I get the mockery from other consultants and campaign professional when someone calls themselves a “social media director,” because anyone who is really Twitter famous can call themselves one and expect to be taken seriously. But digital strategy is the same as every other aspect of a campaign. There has to be a reason and a desired effect to everything you do, and you have to work synergistically with the rest of the campaign, particularly with traditional press side.

The reason why I write this because, while I regularly see things on the Facebook pages of campaigns than make me want to #headdesk my way into a concussion, there was one example that illustrated what I’m talking about. I don’t want to link to it (just to cover my own ass), but it was more than 200 words without a single paragraph, contained more ten lines of attack against the opponent, and one nice thing about the candidate that I barely noticed.

And it perfectly illustrates the difference between Digital Strategy vs. Just Posting All the Things

Just Posting All The Things
Campaign manager gives the intern who is good with computers all of the aforementioned to post. The intern posts it. A bunch of people like and share it.

Digital Strategy
Campaign manager gives the digital strategist all of the aforementioned to post. The very first thing he does is realize that no one is actually going to read a 200+ post and that most of your posts should be kept to between 40-50 words at most. If you can work down to tweet level, even better.

He then takes the info and turns each line of attack into A SEPARATE POST at least. Every tax increase, every back room deal, every waste of taxpayer money gets its own separate post. And instead of just posting words, each post has an accompanying graphic illustrating the point. You want it to grab their attention right away. Pictures do that more than blocks of text.

And while a bunch of people will like and share whatever you post, they aren’t the ones who matter most. It’s their friends who aren’t connected to you. It’s the people they share it with. They’re the ones whose attention you really want to grab, because they’re the ones you want to turn into supporters.

This is just one example using Facebook. It doesn’t get into all the other tools that a campaign can and should have at their disposal. But to understand what those tools are and which would be most beneficial to your campaign, that’s why you need someone who can focus solely on that.

It’s all why your campaign needs a digital director, and not just someone who posts things.

John Brodigan is the Social Media Ambassador for the New York based The Casale Group.

Crossposted at Misfit Politics.
Sep 9

#polichat questions 9/9

1) How much should you be concerned about your blog/Facebook comments? 

2) Will you be running more contests & promotions now Facebook’s new rules have changed?

3) What are the must have digital skills bloggers and online activists need today?

Questions for August 26th

1) How can you use video to improve your content strategy?

2) Email clutter is a problem for everyone. What can you do to make sure your email gets read?

3) What are some tips on how to better manage the digital strategist/tech vendor relationship? 

#polichat questions - August 19th

1) August is a slow time for many of us. Are you trying anything new online to add to your arsenal for 2014?

2) Does the news that 78% of Facebook users are on mobile change your strategy on the platform? 

3) Are listicles a fad or here to stay? Are you changing the way you create content?

#polichat questions - August 12th

1) What should organizations be doing to make best use of Facebook’s new News Feed algorithm? 

2) How will make use of other data given the future uncertainty of cookies?

3) Should the GOP and conservative groups be working together to build a grassroots community of online activists? How?

Aug 5

#polichat Questions - August 5th

1) We all agree pop-ups suck but what are your alternatives to increase your email opt-ins?

2) What tips would you give new organizations with small budgets to increase their ROI on social?

3) Are you incorporating native advertising into your overall strategy? Why or why not? 

Questions for July 29th

1) How can campaigns takes advantage of smaller social networks like Tumblr and Pinterest? 

2) How are you making sure your emails get read with the new Gmail tabs?

3) What are your Instagram best practices? Are you taking advantage of video?

Questions for July 22nd

1) What design tips should organizations take into account to build their blog audience? 

2) How can local campaigns take advantage of Facebook Graph Search?

3) How can campaigns on a tight budget build their email list and activate their supporters online? 

Questions for July 15th

1) How can local campaigns better integrate digital in their daily activities?

2) Are you considering content strategy in your website design process? How so?

3) What are simple and cost-effective ways organizations can increase traffic to their website? 

Jul 8

#polichat questions - July 8th

1) Have you read or participated in crafting Mashable’s Digital Bill of Rights? Is it a realistic to believe there could be an agreed upon standard that respects privacy?   

2) Are you doing your own research and tests to determine the best time to post on social media? 

3) How can campaigns immediately begin to use Twitter’s ad retargeting tool when the service becomes available? 

Jul 1

#polichat questions - July 1st

1) Instagram vs. Vine: which is your choice for short video and why? 

2) Are you including blogging in your organization’s strategy? Why or why not?

3) What are some of your top tips mobile email marketing?