So, now the Tax Day Tea Party for 2010 is over and the protesters' signs are back in the garage, closet or possibly even in the trash. The pictures are all posted on your Facebook page, as is your brilliant, pictorial essay on the day's proceedings, complete with comments. Now it's back to screaming at the TV reporter talking about the current administration's latest foible, or, ensconced at your keyboard, posting with abandon all the things that are going wrong with the country that your candidate's election will change.
The next question is, "Now what next for the campaign?" The options are few: continue doing what you have been doing, or make a concerted effort to improve your reach on the issues, using the Internet to help.
Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to successfully use social media in political campaigns. You might have a Facebook page with lots of friends, you are on Myspace and even Twitter. But that is where you stalled out. You think you've got everything covered, and then some. Problem is, that ain't anywhere near right, Bubba! Time for a reality check!
Sure, you have a website and lots of friends, but you can't seem to keep your message near the top of your page. It keeps getting moved down as other "news" is posted above your stuff. Soon, that great item you slaved over to get the message just right is nowhere to be found. Oops! There it is, way down at the bottom of the second page, under "Older Posts."
This is common with those who do not understand how to properly use social media assets. This problem is just like virtually anything else shrouded in misconception, like the belief that if you build it, they will come. You may build it, and they may come—once. The problem is how to get them to come back, and stay awhile when they do?
The best advice: look for someone with knowledge, experience and a track record in doing what needs to be done. Then hire them to do it. This is definitely not a do-it-yourself arena, except for amateurs and those not looking for anything beyond an entertaining way to pass the time.
Anyone serious about effectively using the Internet's multiple social media assets already knows he or she needs help, probably from past failures that wasted funds and/or time.
Because of the remarkable success surrounding President Barak Obama's campaign, people with no experience in politics think they can just put up a website, get on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, and be ushered into office on a similar wave. This kind of thinking is what is driving all the citizen politicians who have jumped into this election cycle's fray out of nowhere. They are counting on using all these nontraditional methods of seeking office without having ever before attempted anything like this before. They are confident that this is a new age, that they can accomplish things heretofore unheard of in political circles, and are running on pure adrenaline—or so it seems. Most of them will crash and burn in a heap of broken dreams and disillusionment with the system.
The fact is there are no shortcuts, no silver bullets, to a successful campaign, even given all the nontraditional methods being used in the current cycle. It still takes all the same hard work: canvassing neighborhoods, calling on friends and neighbors for assistance, raising money in every possible way—including over the Internet—and putting the message out repeatedly.
One of the colossal mistakes neophyte candidates make is to just throw up a website and leave it, never changing the original content or even updating pictures. This is a great waste of social media's potential, which if properly managed, can be of great benefit.
Notice the term "properly managed". These assets do require managing, otherwise they can prove to be almost worthless in a very short time. Even in the Age of the Internet, there is still much truth in the old adage, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." A much more beneficial use of social assets is to have someone else effectively manage them, updating the content, altering the messages to reflect current events and position changes from opponents, etc. In short, give visitors a reason to come back, linger on the site and leave comments on your page, thus giving them a feeling of connection ... and providing a much higher likelihood that they just might be willing to actually vote for you when the time comes!