8 Social Media Laws for Politicians
A Philadelphia councilman, Jim F Kenney, made the news today but it’s not for the right reason. He hit the headlines for spending taxpayers’ money on social media. Holly Otterbein and William Bender of the Philly Daily News reported that Mr. Kenney spent $29,000 for a company to tweet for him. In addition, he hired a $30,000 communications consultant.
Mr. Kenney: “I, at 53 years old, do not have that facility,” he said. “So I need consultant advice to communicate with a group of folks who are not necessarily in my age group.”
Martin O’Rourke, the politically connected PR man whom Kenney’s office already is paying $30,000 this fiscal year for a communications contract, doesn’t have that facility, either.
“I have no clue how to tweet; I still don’t understand the mechanics of it. It’s a thing of the future,”
After the story broke, the Twitter world had a field day analyzing the cost per tweet and the cost per follower (1912 followers).
Mr. Kenney defended his business decision but not in a way that I would recommend:
In the interest of saving taxpayers dollars, here are the basic rules for politicians who can’t fathom Twitter or any other social media site.
1. Set a strategy for what you want to accomplish. As a politician, your best bet is to build a fan base with your constituents, be available/responsive, and promote the community.
2. Set a social media policy. Make sure that you set guidelines for things that should not be done. hire a competent social media agency to create it for your staff, then make sure those rules are followed.
3. Don’t conduct personal activities on government time, equipment or facilities.
4. Be authentic and don’t lie. The information is captured on the internet forever..
5. Don’t be profane.
6. Don’t forget to self edit: Can you afford to have this be on the front page of the New York Times.
7. Train the staff responsible for executing your social media. Just because your assistant has 500 friends on Facebook doesn’t make them competent at managing a social media campaign.
8. Be transparent – If you’re not twittering or posting on Facebook yourself, be upfront about it. This can help protect you in the case of inappropriate postings that are done without your knowledge.
When set up correctly, a competent social media program can connect a politician effectively to their constituents.
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