Saturday, 21 May 2011

Using Twitter to Influence Your Campaign Messages

I've been invited to speak next week to do a presentation on 'The impact of social media on political PR'. I plan to talk about how the internet has made it much harder for PR hacks in politics to spin or market their messages to people. I also however, discuss the potential which social media has brought for public relations in politics which in my opinion, far outweighs the negative impacts it has brought.

A very simple tool that candidates and campaign directors (I've abbreviated this to CCDs in the rest of the article) should be using is Twitter. The role that Twitter can have in a campaign isn't simply to send messages out (of which even this basic role isn't utilised by the majority of candidates).

What is the point in sending out messages on Twitter if you don't know what messages people are interested in or care about? Just as it would be marketing suicide for a marketing communications team to do no research on their target consumers, to just send out messages blind folded and hope for the best the same would be so in political marketing or campaigning.

CCDs should be using Twitter to collate and analyse the behaviours of Twitter users to influence and craft their overall campaign messages.

The beauty of Twitter is the ability to listen to the people that matter and those people only. For example, rather than watching the Tweets of everybody in the world, or the UK, or even a city, you can watch the tweets of people within the area that you are contesting a seat in.

This can be achieved through a number of methods. The first one, the most basic, is simply by typing in, through Twitter's search box, the area that you are standing in. For example, if I were standing in Cannock, I would search Cannock and I would see all the Tweets from people who have mentioned 'Cannock'.

Even though I know little about Cannock, the people of Cannock or their needs and what's important to them a basic search like this gives me a fantastic focus for my campaign. These tweets have shown me that Cannock Chase, is important to the people of Cannock as well as cycling there:

So now that I know Cannock Chase is popular, I then can go to Google News and see whether it's been mentioned in the local news. From this Google News search I can see that parts of Cannock Chase were being threatened with being sold off.

There we go. That's one of my messages. "Vote for John Jones for Cannock, because UKIP believes Cannock Chase should not be for sale"

This method of PR and marketing research for an election campaign is so easy it is painful that UKIP candidates are not making use of it. Not only this, it's free. What would have cost thousands of pounds not even 10 years ago and taken weeks if not months of research (questionnaires) is now free and instant.

If you would like any help or advice on using Twitter to help aid your campaign please do not hesitate to contact me. Use me whilst I'm free.
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