What a politician primarily requires and seeks is mass votes. And this mass support comes only when one interacts with more and more people and outsources his/her vision of collective good in the public arena. Needless to say, social media provides exactly this kind of platform if you, as a politician, are targeting the educated masses. Popularity among youth is best achieved through social networking sites like facebook, twitter and google+. Social media provides a two way interaction and spreads the intended ideas over the people within minutes. A personal blog or inspiring status update can sometimes be more effective than a public speech. It’s a good way to build a trustworthy image and to engage oneself in a completely transparent dialog. Listed below are few tips for all present and aspiring politicians to use social media effectively to build a strong relationship with the voters:
10. If possible, use it yourself:
Yes, yes, you being a politician have little time, we know. And PR people are great for managing your communications but they cannot replace you when it comes to social media presence. Social media is where private may turn public without you getting to know, and it becomes very important to strike the right balance. Plus, the people want to communicate with you and not your managers. Only you know it the best, how you want people to intercept you. So the best option is to operate your account yourself. If you are a national politician you can create or co-admin a page in your name, so that you may be able to post things yourself. So do it yourself and let people know of your personality. A very good example of a politician operating a social networking account himself is Goodluck Jonathan, the honorable President of Nigeria. His facebook page is updated daily by himself and it includes his personal opinions on the government’s present state.
9. Personalize your profile/page:
In order to engage more with the people in your network and also to increase your follower count you must complete your profile well and define the details. You should use a recent photo of yours and should fill up the contact information correctly. Do add a website if you have one. If you don’t go get a website! In the views section do mention your support for the party you belong to. People don’t follow accounts with a default picture you see, considering it to be lame, careless or spammy. Also, mention your clear interest in politics which would keep uninterested people away. Be transparent while using social media and it can bring you a lot of followers. All greats of Indian politics like Sushma Swaraj, Shashi Tharoor, Narendra Modi and others have personalised and heavily followed profiles on twitter.
8. Engage in a two way conversation:
Social Media is all about conversing and interacting with people or your followers, it is not just about broadcasting your policies. So do indulge yourself in healthy two way conversations. You should expect people to disagree with you over certain things and conversing with them is the right way to explain your side. Even those people who are completely unfamiliar to you or belong to a different constituency may take interest in your posts, so you can converse with them too – remember it is a global platform. You should carefully craft your message and treat the topic of your message as the topic of an on-going conversation that you’re having with your voters. Read and reply to comments and take into account, the opinions of others. Maybe you get a new topic to shift your focus on, from the conversation. If you are seeking youth votes, then it is particularly important that you interact for youth supports active participation.
7. Explore! You will always find useful tools/apps:
You will get to know the worth and usefulness of these social networking websites once you explore them. While exploring, you are likely come across new apps, plug ins and tools which may make your job simpler and effective. For example, consider faceboook, only when you explore it, you get to know of forming groups, check-ins, creating and managing pages, various apps, adding notes and the follower settings. Those who experiment with new tools and technologies are usually remembered by voters ahead of the polls.A remarkable example is how Obama used YouTube to reach his voters. His non-traditional method of problem-solving appealed the Americans. Such politicians are admired by their voters as they can adapt and grow with technology.
6. Authenticity is the key! You can get personal!:
People always want to know how authentic you are. They wish to know of your personal side and are not always interested to hear your policies (unless it’s the election time). People may want to talk to the real you and not to the person who is only a worker of a political organization. So just be yourself at times and have fun. You should not be scared to talk to people. Be a human like them, on Facebook or Twitter. Convey things about your values, family and yourself. Be positive. Talk to the people like any fellow citizen. Upload photos, edit them or add notes, but just be careful that it does not send a wrong message to society.
5. Spread your ideas and start your campaigns:
Now here is the exact motive of you making a social networking profile. You are here to spread your opinions, so do it as creatively as you can. You can start your campaign by adding events on facebook. If you are busy and forgetful, you can go for scheduled posts on facebook. Scheduling your updates helps your audience to anticipate what and where you are talking from. It makes you appear far more active which will definitely win you support. And once you create events or post check- ins on these sites, you can also expect more people to turn up to your campaigns and speeches. Take up issues that you fight for and impress people with your updates. 3 US politicians who are expert in running social media campaigns are Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
4. Showcase your affection for people:
Love your voters like a family; that is how a popular and successful leader goes about. And your voters and supporters must feel that affection coming from you. If you have an online presence over prolonged periods, your followers will come to know how transparent and responsive you are and also how good a leader you will be. So stop forcing your views over people and show them that your values remain unperturbed over net too. Just like in daily life, in social media too it is good to be nice. Spread love and peace and allow the masses to judge whether you are good or bad in their eyes, are you naughty or are you nice. Just like, share, tweet or retweet the things your followers say, and let the logic of good to good and bad to bad work!
3. Intelligently choose between your private and public life:
Everybody including politicians has a professional and private life, but social media is a platform where this line demarcating the two reduces considerably in width and turns blurry – your personal life is something people get interested in and it becomes more public. You have to think twice before posting updates about your family, parties or health; you must consider views of your loved ones about whom you intend to talk about whether they would be happy with it. As a public figure, you must consider every aspect and outcome before posting things about your personal life, be it a vacation or a birthday celebration.
2. Social media is not a battle ground:
Being on social media will not make you the clear favorite. There may be times when you face disagreements to the statements you make. You need to be ready for damage control online perhaps even more than offline. At times when you say something that someone else disagrees with you must calmly exercise control over the conversation – You can’t tell them they are idiots, you should respect their opinions and explain why you support the opposite thing. Be positive and avoid negative comments. Smearing your opponents is not what you are here for on social media. Always maintain your dignity because you never know how our followers may act. You could learn this from the example of the Twitter battle between ex parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor and ICL commissioner. The negative exchange led to the former’s resignation.
1. Make time and update often:
You cannot just make an account on a social networking site and let it turn obsolete without using it for all its worth. Analyze how much time you can spare for it or rather make time and commit yourself to it. If you don’t have much time for multiple accounts, then focus on one only one social networking site for the time being. Commitment means more interaction and more popularity. As the contemporary world is media saturated, one must understand the ongoing commitment associated with social media. It is not like the normal campaign which comprises of scheduled speeches and visits. It is in fact better if you do not to create a campaign blog if it can witness just a flurry activity during the first week and thereafter a dark state for the following weeks. A good example is current Prime Minister David Cameron of UK who actively uses social media for communication with masses.