The secret to getting 1,000 ward residents to follow you on Twitter

The lesson from David Meerman Scott’s post The secret to getting 50,000 followers on Twitter is just as applicable in the field of politics, such as if you are a councillor wanting to communicate with residents via Twitter or a Parliamentary candidate wanting to build up an email list of constituents.

The lesson itself? Simple:

The secret is that there is no secret… You need to build a fan base one effort at a time over the long haul.

The idea may have come from an American marketer via an initial music industry idea, but that’s been my own experience in internet politics in Britain. Hence my reference to the fairy tale:

A tortoise marching towards the cameraBe a tortoise, not a hare
The fast-moving story that sweeps round the world may catch the headlines, but the reality of most internet campaigning is very different: it’s the gradual, consistent and sustained effort that reaps the reward. Unless you’re very lucky, it’s a commitment to building up email lists, web visitors and so on over time which brings results.

Gradual steady progress still have to be fast enough to get you to your goal. Take as an example calculation this one for a councillor up for election in May 2012 who is starting with an email list of zero. If they add on average one email address a day to their list, but the time the election starts that will give an email list of around 400 which in turn means reaching households that contain, say, 600 voters. If they need 1,000 votes to win, then that is a big enough list to end up with to be able to have a major impact. But if they are building their email list at only one email a week on average, that’s less than 100 voters in the end – helpful in a very marginal contest, true, but not really quick enough.

So do the sums, set the low but steady pace and get going…

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6 Comments

  • Some campaigns may be more urgent and time of the essence. Being a tortoise is not always an option when standing up for good causes that could disappear overnight. Source Richmond & Twickenham Times http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/8868823._Turn_out_to_back_Tangley___campaigners_urge/

  • I am not sure about Twitter, but I have seen a very good effort from a local LibDem councillor (and onetime PPC). His secret is usefulness. In a ward close to the university, he tells student residents (but also other residents) to join his facebook group for weekly updates which include a reminder of which bit of recycling to put out, various topical bits of information as they arise, and a list of practical bits of information which stays pretty much the same, but comes in useful in various situations of need (i.e. whom to contact when there is trouble with the landlord and so on). The recycling reminder alone is useful enough to make subscription worthwhile. I haven’t checked lately how many people are signed up, but I think it’s well in the four figures, and he seems to manage to keep up the numbers even though the population is fluctuating significantly year by year.

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