Okay, we chatted about using social media in general for political campaigns, and even hit specifically on Facebook Fan Pages. Now let’s take a second to look at how Twitter can help political candidates run better campaigns and keep supporters updated with occasional online “tweets.”
I’m not as big a fan of Twitter for use in political campaigns as I am of Facebook, but it is still a social networking tool that makes it extremely easy to set up an account and share quick bits of information with supporters.
Remember, the great thing about social media sites like Twitter is that they help candidates save money, time and effort by replacing traditional communication tools such as letter and newsletter mailings, email updates and even phone calls.
While all of these should still play a role in your political campaign, Twitter, Facebook and other Internet social media tools allow you to communicate with your voter base more frequently if used correctly.
Don’t be embarrassed if you haven’t yet grasped what Twitter is and how “tweeting” can help a candidate in a political campaign election. Basically, Twitter is what’s called a “micro-blogging” website that lets you read and send short messages of 140 characters or less called tweets. Other Twitter users can subscribe to your account and keep updated about what you are currently doing whenever you post a tweet.
Twitter is much easier to use than Facebook, and many people post tweets right from their mobile or cell phones (since a tweet can only be 140 characters or less, it is perfect to post via text messages). If you are a political candidate who is frequently on-the-go and don’t have as much time to sit down at a computer and post to Facebook, then Twitter might be a better social networking tool for you to use.
That’s not to say that you can’t post to Facebook from your phone, as well–it can be done, but I generally like to use Facebook more as an organizer for friends and supporters rather than a micro-blogging platform. Also, remember that it is possible to link your Twitter and Facebook accounts, too–if you want, you can set it so that all of your Tweets are automatically posted on Facebook, as well, which makes updating easier.
While Twitter doesn’t encourage as much deep interaction and networking as Facebook does, it’s still a great tool that every political campaign should employ. Even if you’re a candidate in a smaller local political race, it’s worth it to set up a quick Twitter account and encourage your online supporters to subscribe to your tweets for updates about the campaign.
Don’t think that you have to have hundreds of Twitter followers to get a benefit from the tool, either. If followers is interested enough in you as a candidate to subscribe to your campaign tweets, then even a list of a few dozen fans can help out.
As with Facebook, your Twitter account will be much more effective if you promote it on a linked political candidate website, but having a site isn’t a requirement to use Twitter.
There are lots of fun things about Twitter that you simply have to experience yourself, so I encourage you to take a couple of seconds to go start a free account and send out some tweets. Take a look at what other people are tweeting about, subscribe to their tweets, and interact a bit with them.
Even if you don’t utilize Twitter to its full potential in this political campaign, it is bound to play a more important role in future elections as you learn to use it more effectively and your subscriber base expands.