Electioneering the social networking way

So you’ve been selected as a candidate for council or general election as a Lib Dem. Hurrah! The first step on the path to world domination and ever-lasting glory has been taken, and now you’re wondering what the next step is. You look at your campaign budget. You realise that thruppence ha’penny and a tin of organic pasta sauce is not going to go as far as the Ashcroft millions the Tories have access to, or the union funding of Labour. You’re going to have to use all your wiles and cunning to even get noticed as a member of the third party. So you consider using this new-fangled internet social networking thing that people keep telling you is going to make a difference this time around. After all, most of what you can do on the internet is free, and won’t eat into your tin of organic pasta sauce. What could possibly go wrong?

Personal websites

If you’re going to set up a personal website, put some thought into it. Make it a hub for all the news about you and all your online activities. Make sure it meets accessibility guidelines, and is not full of typographical, spelling, or grammar mistakes. But above all, make sure it is updated regularly and obviously, which is the key to getting repeat visitors.

Blogging

I’ve been a blogger since before the word blogging was coined. I’m an old hand at it. There are definitely some do’s and don’ts:

  • DO bear in mind that anything you type into a blog could be used against you by an opponent. If you’re brazen and gobby like me, you won’t care about them digging up the sordid details of your personal life, but it’s worth realising that if you call your opponent a no-brained monkey-shagger, someone will notice and call you up on it
  • DON’T be dull. If you’re dull, nobody will read your blog and then there’s very little point in blogging
  • DO mention local issues and what you think about them
  • DON’T think that your blog has to be entirely focused on one subject – the electorate want to know you as a person, as well as your political convictions
  • DO post regularly. A blog that is not updated often enough will not capture people’s attention
  • DON’T shy away from saying what you really think. The public are sick of cardboard cut out politicians
  • DO read the LDV guide to starting a blog, if you’ve never blogged before

Blogging is not for everyone, but it is a good way of getting your thoughts out there so that the electorate can find them and they are untwisted by evil newspaper editors.

Facebook

Facebook is the biggest social networking site out there. Everybody has a profile. My mum has a profile. You want to reach your electorate by word of mouse, Facebook is the way to go. As with blogging, though, there are some do’s and don’ts:

  • DO create a fan page so that you can keep your actual friends separate from your electioneering. There’s no harm in inviting friends and family to become fans, but you don’t want to have your social life and your political life too entwined.
  • DON’T create a “Jo Bloggs for Blandshire” group. Have you any idea how annoying that is for your friends, in six month’s time, when they get told they can’t join any more groups and they discover that’s because they’re a member of seventy zillion “Jo Bloggs for Blandshire” groups for an election that happened six months ago? I habitually hit ignore on these, and I know other people do too.
  • DO create a “Vote Jo Bloggs for Blandshire” event, with the date and times of the election on it. You can then send a reminder to everyone to go out and vote on the day.
  • DON’T worry if all your friends don’t immediately become fans of you, or say they’ll vote for you. You’re a Liberal, right?

Video and audio

If you have a voice like Ann Widdecombe and a face like the Elephant Man then you probably want to stick to the written word, but if you’re not in those categories then you could consider videos on YouTube or podcasts:

  • DO keep it short and snappy. People get bored very easily online.
  • DON’T just take a video of your face talking. That’s dull. Even if you look like Johnny Depp, that’s dull.
  • DO talk about local issues, and talk to local people.
  • DON’T try to be Ridley Scott. Keep it simple.

(You can also follow the tips previously posted on Lib Dem Voice to get more views for your films.)

Twitter

Twitter is very divisive. Some people love it, and some people hate it. Twitter is not essential. I would say to get an account if you think you get it and you’re going to use it, but if you’re not, don’t worry.

Interlinking

Whatever internet strategy you adopt, make sure it’s cohesive. Your personal website should contain or link to your blog. Your Facebook and Twitter pages should be connected. Make it easy for people to go from one to another; every person has a different preference for how they wish to access information on the internet – make it easy for them to find the type of information they like to access about you.

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This entry was posted in Online politics.
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