Online politics regularly provides voters with campaign gaffes, mistakes and embarrassing moments. There are many opportunities for political campaigns and candidates to make online blunders. Here are five some of the most common and avoidable problems that we see campaigns make every election season.
Writing website content in the first person
Many candidates use their site’s home page to write an open letter to voters. Too many ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’ words can hurt your site’s ranking in the search engines. If you want your website to well rank for searches of your name, then your name must be included in your site content.
If you want to use first person copy, try using ‘pull boxes’ that include your name. Combined with a good page title, page description and image tags, you may be able to overcome the limitations of first person copy.
Failing to effectively fundraise online
It doesn’t matter how small your campaign may be. If you have a campaign bank account and a website, you can take online donations. A number of services provide online donation forms, social media tools and easily process and deposit donations directly into your bank account. Services designed specifically for political campaigns will handle disclosure and tracking requirements for you. Some also allow you to collect recurring donations through Election Day.
If you plan to take online donations, start early. Be sure to know and follow your local election laws.
Letting your social media accounts languish
If you start a social media account, you owe it to your followers to provide regular updates. If you start an account and abandon it, followers will be left hanging. Potential followers will see a lack of activity and might even think that you have abandoned your campaign. It’s better to start at a manageable level and grow your social media efforts over time. Most political campaigns use Facebook and Twitter. Maybe Instagram if they are ambitious.
Posting from the wrong social media account
Many candidates or campaign staff may manage both personal and campaign social media accounts. If you have multiple accounts, make sure you are logged into the proper account before you post. A personal opinion posted to a campaign account could appear to be an ‘official’ campaign position and lead to an embarrassing situation. This mistake is more common than you may think, especially in the business world.
Sometimes it’s a staff who makes an erroneous tweet. Sometimes it’s the candidate. Either way, you can be sure that the campaign will somehow blame a technical issue or some outside ‘hacker’.
Assuming you have any privacy at all, anywhere or anytime
Anything you ever say or share online (and offline) should pass the ‘New York Times Test’. That means, if you wouldn’t be comfortable with what you’ve said or done appearing on the cover of the New York Times, then don’t do it. That even includes personal posts and email correspondence.
This rule also applies to real life. Almost everyone carries a mobile device these days. Any time you are in a public or even private setting, assume you are being recorded. Campaigns often send ‘plants’ to an opponent’s campaign events to record the candidate and try to catch a ‘gotcha’ moment.
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