Let me make an honest statement about politicians and government: almost no one likes us. Approval ratings of the President, Congress and government in general are at all-time lows.
Another honest statement: I think social media can combat this disapproval – if used right.
Let me qualify that statement. I don’t mean to say that social media, in and of itself, can turn around the negative views that so many Americans have about their government and the people who represent them. What I do mean is that social media, if used properly, can strengthen the connection between between constituents and their elected officials? How? Well, read on:
1) Sound like a human: Please, please, sound like who you are, not just a government robot. Use your real voice when speaking on social media. To do otherwise sounds disingenuous.
2) The personal touch: Related to the point above – use social media to show people who you are. I know this might be a surprising statement to some, but here goes: Really, I swear, those of us who hold elected office are just like you. We love our families. We pay our bills. We worry about our finances, paying off debt and sending our kids to a decent college. We shop at Target and Walmart. We’re no different, not really, than the average person. To that end, I advise all elected officials to use social media in a personal way. Show pictures of your house – messy floor and all. Show those cute pictures of your kids. It reminds everyone that we are regular people, not the caricature of government that so many make us out to be.
3) Say something unpopular or controversial: Politicians have a bad tendency of sounding too polished. We speak in carefully measured soundbites and only say things that we know the vast majority of people will agree with. So, say something unpopular. Say something controversial. Heck, just say what you are thinking!
4) Respond to comments – even the nasty ones: No one likes nasty, insulting comments. That being said, if you respond to your comments – even the ones that are nasty or disagreeable – you will get credit from your readers, and even your opponents, for trying to be honest. Don’t get into a non-stop argument, and don’t be afraid of letting the last word go, but at the same time, do not be afraid to respond…even to people who disagree with you.
Anything else to add? Any better ideas to share? Let me know what you are thinking in the comments!