On Getting Your Political Message Right

… Or a brief content strategy for a political party social media manager.

My home country Bulgaria is less than three weeks away from parliamentary elections. The previous set of MPs could not finish its mandate and suddenly every political party found itself on the hasty path of getting vote wherever they can get them. This includes social media.

The problem I see all over Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and proprietary websites is that it seems very few of these parties got their teams all on the same page. Moreover, almost none of them are really concerned about the User Experience (UX) they offer. It comes as no surprise, since UX was never on the table. At least not in the sense that voters’ means what it really should in a democracy – power and will to change their lives for the better. Messages (political slogans) like “We have willpower”, “Let’s give back Bulgaria to the people” and “Congratulations” with a strong Bulgarian accent are more than meaningless without a shared reference or context being given.

So, I’ve decided to offer some thoughts on creating a scalable political message in the context of online communication. And while writing Message, in this particular post it will also mean Content.

The Message

Self-identification with political party means sharing values and firmly believing that its representatives will be working to make people’s (your) life better. The only way for this to happen prior to the elections is to listen and ponder carefully on the messages communicated by the political party. Naturally, if only one cares…

A political message needs to be simple, understandable and straight to the point. It should refrain from ambiguity and room for setting confusion among the voters. It should answer the questions what, how and when would things happen. No ifs and certainly not solely bashing the competition for things they’ve (or haven’t) done wrong while in governance.

It all should be about what you did, what you will do if elected, when change could be expected, who will act on it. And you’d better be for real.

How is this done is a practical way?

Analysis

Everything starts with your party’s website – the center of your campaign and the main platform featuring all content types (text copy, video, graphics, program documents etc.). One should carefully analyze current content availability and benchmark it against what is needed to get the message more clearly out. Monitoring competition on the digital political landscape is a must. Who knows, you might learn something that can help you get better at communication your own values.

Content Modification and Creation

This step is all about reflection on what you’ve got already and creating additional materials that will help the voter decide to express his/her constitutional right in your favor. Is there something that you’re missing? Is there is something that sounds off? Can you communicate this part better? Do you have visuals that speak well enough of your professionalism, goals and ability to change the status quo?

Get writing. Get new pictures, videos or other visuals. Monitor the press, especially in the political analysis section. Come up with fresh and genuine representation of your values. No the ones someone else is sharing. And publish them.

Now, while you are doing that, think of scalability. You can pretty much publish anything on your website. But can you do the same on social networks? Most of them have limitations on message length in terms of characters or type of media format that can be attached to them. Make sure that you have a shorter teaser version that is followed by the link that will lead the voter to full version of your message published on the website.

Content Testing

No matter how smart you are, I can bet you that you will not get everything 100% right on the first Go. You would need to start small and feel the pulse on each and every one of the social platforms you are using. The communication tones differ on all of them and YOU NEED to engage to voter. The one that wants to engage with you will send you a ping. By the way, make sure to answer that ping, unless it is a troll.  And we already know that trolls should not be fed.

So test, alter and then test again. Once you got the tone right, just push unobtrusively and don’t be super aggressive.

Content Deploy

Since your content would be represented on a variety of channels, it would be great to have it all hooked up and presented on your website. When you are doing that, make sure that your YouTube account is not automatically sharing on Twitter and Facebook the videos you upload. The voter will most certainly will not appreciate or pay attention to a tweet stating “I uploaded a video on my YouTube channel -….”. Instead, do it manually, but inserting content with the link. The same goes to your Flickr account, your SlideShare or whatever other content depository platform you are using.

It is important to know whether and how voters are interactive with your content. Do they watch the videos, do they click on the links and do they check out your pictures… This brings me to the next step of the content strategy circle…

Voter Interaction

You are not done by just publishing the content. Once you hit the “Publish” button the content starts to live its own life. You need to be there to guard it and raise it, to make sure it grows as into the best content it could be. The interaction with the voter is what would give your content an extra edge.  Remember that viral spread is made by the social media user, not you. Your content is found engaging and sharable by the voter, not you.

So, be there when someone asks you a question on Twitter. Thank all the comments on Facebook and YouTube. Don’t leave a question unanswered or an issue unattended. Oh, and don’t feed trolls!

Analysis

You read me right – again Analysis. There is no escape from it. If there is anything you should constantly do every single day that would be analysis and implementing finding based on it. It is a circle that you need to complete and then start all over again. The successful online representation strictly depends on interaction of the voters with your content/message. The only way for you to do that is to analyze the performance on regular basis.

There are a few other posts that a political party social media professional should also read and here they are:

Brief Social Media Strategy Suggestions For A Bulgarian Political Party

Twitter, Chukolov and Eurocommunications

Bulgaria’s Shadow Cabinet In Twitter (#всянка)

Expatriate Messaging

On Your Social Media Messages

Shared Reference, Stupid!

And you the reader, do you have an opinion? What are you looking for in a political message? What would you like to see on the digital landscape presented to you by the politicians?

P.S. Feel free to translate in your local language and post it on your blog. I only ask for attribution and link back to my original post. 😉

Copyright © 2013 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.