Social Media Strategy for Lawmakers

How Should legislators work with the changing world of social media strategy?

Earlier this month I spoke to a group of state legislators at the Public Leadership Institute's State Strategy Forum. There were a lot of great questions and the crowd was so much fun that I decided to turn the highlights into this week’s post.

Making the most of your social media strategy:

Have a message: Legislative fundamentals have been underplayed by some, but to have a good social media presence, you need to have a clear message with the limited content you can actually put out on social media. To do this effectively, a clean message is even more important.

Tell a story: Storytelling is a big deal. Whether you are a lawmaker or a working for a nonprofit, understanding and delivering the emotion of an issue can be the difference between passing and killing a piece of legislation.

Front load content: Make your content count. Don’t bury the lede, focus on delivering the core message earlier rather than later.

Have a content calendar: Get the message out and repeat, repeat, repeat. A content calendar allows you to proactively plan out your content in a clear way. It’s important to remember that time is a constant, and you need to look at yourself as a publisher. Think about your overall message. Planning content ahead of time helps you stay in control of the dialogue.

Use your content to test messages:
 Social media can be a a great way to test what works. To move constituents, use Facebook and Twitter analytics to see what is working. These analytics can help you refine and improve your message.

Be proactive and reactive:
 Have a good mix of planned content and spur of the moment content. Don't just tweet once. Switch the headline and tweet again.

Hashtag it: Hashtags make it easy for folks to find content, so research the best hashtags on an issue in your state or create catchy new ones and use them.

Be multi-channel: It is important to create content specific for your channels. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all have different specifications and different things that work. Creating content for each channel will work better in the long run.

Video maters: The world is moved by videos, and social media strategy rewards video content. Assume the video will be watched on a mobile device, and plan for a mobile first viewer. Front load the message and focus on content over production value. The video does not have to be highly produced, but rather needs to have a good message that folks can connect with.

Don’t ignore email: Email is tried and true and is a great way to layer what you are doing on social media to get specific action taken.

Build lists: Adding your email and donor list to Twitter and Facebook can really help with your layered communication.

Let folks know who you are: Bombarding folks with a barrage of tweets on legislation may not be as effective as mixing in personal content that explains to folks who you are in your everyday life.

Create a real relationship: Layer communication across mediums. The more you can respond and have a real back and forth with your constituents, the better a relationship you can have with your leads. It is hard to get to know folks via social media alone, so using email or in person communication through different social media platforms is ideal if you can get there.

"Hug your haters": Jay Baer wrote a great book about how ignoring feedback from customers can really hurt a company, and how the same can be said for lawmakers. You need to engage with folks who may start out as critics. If you ignore them just because they have a issue you, will never get a chance to engage with them again. 

Have questions about social media strategy? Ask them here.

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Joe Fuld is the President of The Campaign Workshop, a political and advocacy advertising agency in Washington D.C. that provides strategy, digital advertising, content and direct mail services to non-profit and political clients.

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