You learn the hard way. That’s the thing with social media. Nobody knows what they’re doing. – Cameron Dallas
When we last left off we were discussing the latest political campaign faux pas, specifically how those once prized political endorsements have become ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Even newspaper endorsements don’t matter anymore, yet candidates cling to the obsolete notion they can still make a difference.
But as much as that stuck-in-the-past notion bothers me, that form of electoral turpitude pales in comparison to my indignation at how veteran and fledgling candidates insist upon misusing the social media platform.
Prior to the plague, social media was a tertiary campaign concern at best, so mistakes in that realm were minimized by default. Worse yet, a candidate had no idea if they were actually reaching a district voter. But when it became the only means of connecting to people at work, school, and friends, the pandemic thrust social media into a new preeminence that was solidified by the post-COVID remote boom in businesses, the courts, work, and more.
The issue of reaching the right voters remains a difficult one. But when a UConn survey found that 70 percent of respondents had increased their social media usage during the first 2020 pandemic wave, and 89 percent of their social media usage increased or stayed the same during the second 2021wave, those targeting odds have greatly improved. Add that virtually every American will be on social media by 2028 and that campaign messaging reality can’t be ignored.
But social media becoming both a campaign boon and bane doesn’t change the candidate’s singular goal – to accumulate as many positive voter impressions as possible.
2. Social media isn’t about you, it’s about the voters!
Though by the looks of the current candidate postings, you’d think the polar opposite held sway.
Why do so many candidates fall into this it’s-all-about-me trap? A political friend likes to say the second someone throws their hat in the ring, they immediately lose 30 percent of their brain cells. Considering my campaign managing experience, I’d put that number a lot closer to 66 percent.
My theory is that running for “tribal leadership” automatically activates the amygdala, or lizard brain, and that primitive nerve center takes over rendering the candidate incapable of seeing beyond the end of their own nose.
The truth is nobody cares about your pithy saying. Nobody gives a flying bleep about your child’s report card. And with the exception of the experiences that qualify you to hold that particular office, unless it’s truly compelling, no one cares about your life story. The voters’ only concern is what you’re going to do for them, and even that proposition of fraught with peril.
And it’s dangerous because, considering given the 24/7 news cycle onslaught and their rampant ADHD, voters don’t want to take the time to truly consider your or your opponent’s merit. They’d much rather come up with an easy reason to dismiss your candidacy. So, don’t give them one!
In part 3 we’ll discuss the RIGHT way to use social media.
Jeff Ward is a sought-after campaign manager with a 75 percent winning track record. He’s the author of So You Want to Win a Local Election? a comprehensive manual covering all aspects of the campaign process. You can purchase the full color, monochrome, or eBook version on Amazon. If you’re interested in a campaign consultation, or you simply want to reach Jeff, please email him at email@example.com.