Peter Purcell works in Marketing and writes a platform for us on politicians who used social media particularly well during the recent election campaign.
As campaigning is now over lets leave politics to one side and take a look at who is winning on social media and leading the way for their party colleagues to follow. I have picked out three candidates that have caught my attention, but would be keen to hear who has impressed you.
In terms of social media, Naomi Long leads the field for a number of reasons.
First and foremost she has been consistently active on social media for a significant period of time, building up 13K followers on Twitter. Long is one of very few local politicians that understand social media is a two-way conversation and has emerged unrivaled in terms of interaction with both promoters and critics.
Her team is willing to try new things in the pursuit of producing shareable, engaging content. They have been creative when putting messages across, from the ‘GingerNinja’ hashtag to short videos and references to the likes of Back to The Future and Doctor Who. It’s refreshing to see something a bit different, OK, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but if I was a fellow candidate I would take a look at how many times those Tweets and posts have been shared.
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
As Lord Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir built a significant following of 19.9K Twitter followers through an infectious energy and positivity. As a South Belfast candidate he has continued with this positivity. Much like Naomi Long, he constantly interacts with followers and gives a real insight into his personality and passions; an added sense of humour helps things. In addition to endless selfies Ó Muilleoir has used Vine well giving another avenue to express himself.
The DUP man has consciously been working to build his social media presence in this election (Unsurprising given who he is up against). He has impressed in consistency of posting and has rightly chosen to stay positive in his posts. Although the photos of him knocking on the doors can become a bit repetitive, he must be praised for relentlessly communicating his efforts and using photos with constituents to add a personal touch. Bell is very much on the right tracks in terms of using social, but by mixing up the content he posts he could soon be leading the way for fellow DUP candidates to follow.
Trawling through the Twitter and Facebook accounts of this years candidates there are a number of key points that, in my opinion, make for a strong social media presence (It must be noted that very few candidates tick all these boxes).
1. Consistency and Variation is a good strategy
The foundation for a good social media campaign needs to be built over years not months. The candidates that are performing best are obviously well known, but they have also built a following over a long period of time. They have been consistently using social media to communicate not just for this particular campaign.
The most engaging accounts vary not only the type of posts (photos, video, quotes, Retweets/Shares) but also the topics. Maybe most important of all, those that flourish on social use it as an opportunity to talk to people and engage with active users.
2. Positivity and Personality wins on social
You can quickly spot the candidates avoiding constant criticism of their competition and instead choosing to focus on the positivity of their own campaign, which plays out much more effectively on social media. Additionally, those that give an insight into their life outside of politics and show some humor and energy get my attention and if you have my attention, I will at least hear what you have to say.
3. Don’t be fooled by ‘Likes’ and ‘Favorites’ it’s all about shareability
Social media is an extremely powerful tool building up to an election because it provides an opportunity for promoters to share your message, and a political message coming from a friend or a family member can often be much more impactful. Those candidates that recognise this, and take some time to think how they can package key messages into shareable content, are going to be the ones that squeeze every last drop of benefit from social.
Social media will not win an election, but its importance is ever increasing. More significantly, to politicians, it provides an opportunity to grow a profile, get known and engage voters, especially younger voters.