Call To Actions

How elected officials can use Facebook’s Call To Action buttons

Facebook recently unveiled Call To Action buttons for Facebook pages.  This is a great new edition that can allow you to create a button on the top of your page. This button will lead users directly to a specific type of action that they can take.  For elected officials, there are some great opportunities.

Only seven specific type of buttons are enabled:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

If the feature has been rolled out to your page (it has popped up at different times to some of the pages I run), the button will be available in the bottom-right of your cover page.  Facebook says that they are unveiling them over a series of a few weeks.

Realistically, of the seven options, only a few are truly usable for an elected:

  • Contact Us: Lead people to a sign-up page which allows them to connect with your office. I’d argue that this is the best button for elected officials to use, and it’s the one I use at my official page.
  • Sign Up: Lead people to a button that allows them to sign-up for your Email newsletter.
  • Watch video: Lead a user to a video where they can learn more about you as an elected official, like a press conference, interview, etc.

Incidentally, you can also send mobile users to a different website, so there are some (limited) customizations available. To the best of my knowledge, the button location cannot be moved, so it’s locked into it’s location at the top of your page.  At the moment, you cannot have more than one button.

However, this is a powerful feature, as CTA buttons can increase conversions, sign-ups and other actions.  What is perhaps most interesting, from a strategic perspective, is that Facebook is actually now making it easier for users to go off of Facebook and access the internet as a whole.  It’s another example of Facebook becoming more and more integrated with the internet as a whole, not just it’s own platform.

Any other tips or advice to share? Let us know in the comments!

What is an infographic

How to make your own infographic

For the past few years, infographics have been all the rage, and you’ve almost certainly seen one on the internet at some point.  An infographic is a graphically appealing way of condensing as much information as possible into a designed picture. Their goal, more often than not, is to go viral and spread as quickly possible over social media.

Using infographics is a great way of spreading valuable information.  According to studies, infographics are better for processing information and far more likely to be shared socially.

Still, they can be a pain to create, and unless you have a working knowledge of graphic design, it’s difficult to create one on your own.  So how can you create an infographic on a subject you care about?

There are two primary ways:

  • Hire someone:  Fortunately, there are no shortage of services which will allow you to hire someone to create an infographic.  Examples of such services include oDesk, eLance or Infographic World.  As for the cost, those typically run on an hourly rate.
  • Use websites to create your own: If you have the information and are looking for good websites to help you format it, fear not!  Examples of websites that can help you pull together an infographic include Visually Create, and Piktochart.  Be warned, these are usually template designs, and that means that other people will probably have the same formats as you. Also, many of these models works on a Freemium basis – basic features are free, but more advanced features are paid.

Infographics can also be labor intensive, and you have to come prepared with the right information – but if you do, you can make a great point in a small amount of space.

Any tips to add?  We could use them – let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Use social media like it’s a GoPro

A recently announced a partnership will soon give viewers an incredible new view into a hockey game: GoPro is partnering with the NHL to strap cameras to the heads of players and give viewers an incredible shot of a hockey game that they had previously not had access to: the first person look of the game.

If you like hockey, this is incredible. You’ll now get to see what a hockey game looks like from the perspective of a player.  Indeed, it is that perspective which makes the game absolutely fascinating to hockey junkies: they can get a look at what their favorite game looks like when it’s being played live.  This is an incredible view that has previously been inaccessible to all but the players.

Why am I writing about it on a blog for social media and elected officials?  Because this one of many ways in which every elected official should be using social media: to provide a perspective previously unseen.  One of my favorite political uses of social media came from Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who Vined his vote against an anti-abortion bill:

This behind the scenes look provides a level of intimacy that had been previously unavailable to the average voters. I’ll use myself in another example: last week, Governor Tom Wolf was sworn in as Pennsylvania’s new Governor.  I took part in two processions: one at his swearing in, and one that night at his Inaugural party.  In the course of doing so, I snapped a few pictures and uploaded them:

Should this be done all the time?  No–you risk looking like all you care about is the glamour and the celebrity aspects of being an elected official, and the job is far too serious to do this too often.  However, people do enjoy that behind the scenes look.  Uploading shots like this, on occasion, shows that you are connected and engaged.  It also shows you have nothing to hide: to a large extent, the life you live as an elected official is an open book, and posts like this can help show that.

That being said, I think the idea of using social media like it’s a GoPro is a good model: Show everything.  Hold nothing back.  And give a perspective that is normally hidden from the average viewer.

Do you have anything to add?  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts: let me know in the comments!

Five helpful ways an elected official can use social media during a disaster

I write this blog entry from the good old state of Pennsylvania, portions of which are about to get socked with more than foot of snow. Suffice to say that tomorrow will be a terrible day to travel, and I hope everyone is safe.

That being said, social media has become an integral part of our world during a natural disaster. As elected officials, we have a role to play during one of these crises periods by promoting safety and sharing useful information.  The trick, of course, is to make sure that the information you share is accurate, credible and useful.

What can you do, as an elected official or ordinary citizen?  Here are some specific ideas:

1) Prepare: The preparation phase of a natural disaster is often the most important. Give people tips and advice on how to best prepare for what is coming, and make sure to give them information on the timing, scope and duration of whatever disaster is heading your way.

2) Status updates: If you have access to the information, let people know what is happening with the natural disaster, recovery efforts, power outages, etc.  Keep the information as real time and current as possible. People look to their elected leaders during such a disaster, so as long as you are sharing information that is relevant and useful, it’s doubtful that you can share too often.

3) Resource updates:  During Sandy, I remember my Mayor tweeting constantly about the availability of warming stations.  Share resource updates with people, including shelter, charging stations, water, ice, etc.

4) News accounts: More often than not, the news media will have useful information that you constituents will want to know.  Share links to their social media accounts and let people know that these are good, reputable sources in which they can stay updated about what is happening.

5) Stop the spread of bad information: One of the most malicious social media uses I’ve seen occurred during Superstorm Sandy in New York City, when Shashank Tripathi took to Twitter to spread a variety of lies (blatantly self-promotional side note: Tripathi’s Twitter tirades are covered in my book).  Fortunately, official accounts maintained by Con Edison and others used Twitter to refute the inaccurate tweets.  If you know of a lie that is spreading, use social media to stop it.  Be clear about what the lie is and what the truth is, and make sure there is ZERO ambiguity about the difference between the two.  Also, ask people to share/retweet and stop the lie.

One additional thought: Make sure that you only share updates from reputable sources.  No “I heard from a friend” updates – those can only prove to be untrue and come back to bite you!

Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Seahawks MLK Tweet

How to fail: Don’t use holidays to make a business or political point on social media

It seems, unfortunately, to be an American tradition when it comes to social media: taking advantage of holidays or sacred anniversaries for self-promotional purposes.

Last week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Naturally, much of the comments on the day turned to a discussion on race relations, equality and poverty.  If your social media feed was anything like mine, it was replete with quotes from Dr. King and commentary on the state of racial equality, police relations and the ongoing fight for full and real equality.  By and large, it was an uplifting reminder that so many Americans continue to pay attention to serious issues.

At least two businesses missed that boat.

First was this brilliant tweet from the Seattle Seahawks, who were one day removed from their stunning comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game:

Seahawks MLK Tweet

The tweet was quickly deleted, and the Seahawks apologized:

Then we have this brilliance from Fatburger:

FatBurger MLK Tweet

They are, of course, far from the only ones to ever misappropriate an American holiday or anniversary for self-promotional purposes.  About a year and a half ago, no the 50th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech, the Golf Channel came out with this inspired piece of idiocy:

Golf Channel MLK Tweet

They, too, deleted the tweet and apologized.

Of course, these tacky tweets are far from limited to MLK Day – on September 11, it sometimes seems as if brands and businesses have a contest to see who can tweet out something stupider.

Here’s my point: If you are a business, or an elected official, be careful with what you say on a special day.  Do not try to take advantage of it for your own self-promotional purposes.  If you choose to make a post acknowledging a holiday or anniversary, keep your commentary and imagery relevant to the day and to the values that the day celebrates – do NOT try to promote yourself.  Generally speaking, if a post is devoid of such lunacy, it will be well received.  If it veers into self promotion or money making, you’ve crossed the line, and the internet community will smack you down.

Twitter Comic

You are what you tweet? Study finds relationship between Twitter, heart health

A fascinating study has come from the University of Pennsylvania regarding Twitter and your cardiac health.  The results?  Get this: the angrier the people are that you follow on Twitter, the greater are the odds that you’re going to have a heart attack.  According to Johannes Eichstaedt, the student who led the study, “Our analysis suggests that Twitter captures the psychological milieu of the community.”

The line of logic behind the study is that a hostile Twitter community is related to other factors that are related to heart disease.  However, an important note from Statistics 101: correlation does not equal causation.  In other words, it’s not necessarily that an angry Twitter following causes a heart attack, or that having heat disease makes you more likely to have a group of bitter Twitter followers.  It could be either of those items, or it could be a third option, that something unrelated causes both the nasty Twitter community and the heart disease.

This is one in a series of studies that discuss connection between social media and your physical and emotional health.  On one hand, studies have proven that Facebook can be beneficial to emotional health, particularly among the elderly.  On the other hand, social media has a wide array of negative impacts as well, including leading to increased (negative) comparisons of people’s lives, addition, glamorizing drug/alcohol use and increased Fear of Missing Out.

One possible implication of all of this research? As social media continues to evolve and become more integrated in our lives, I suspect that more and more schools will teach social media use, safety and boundaries. In the long run, I think this is important: my kids are toddlers and I have a feeling they will never know a world without social media. To that end, social media education will be vitally necessary, to be provided by someone – perhaps our educational system?

What do you think – teach social media in schools?  Am I drawing the right conclusion? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


When attacking the President, make sure to get your grammar right

This past Tuesday was the President’s annual State of the Union address.  The most noted viral moment of the speech was probably when the President went off-script and attacked Congressional Republicans who cheered when he said that he was never campaigning again, but another social media tweet is earning it’s share of social media buzz as well.  That would be this tweet, sent by Governor Robert Jindal (R-LA) before the start of the speech:

Note anything off about the tweet?  That last sentence: “Your” should be “You’re.”  Twitter, of course, was kind and merciful about the grammar mistake.

Haha, no, they were vicious:

To this credit, the Governor never deleted the tweet, and it’s still up.

The Governor himself probably wasn’t the person who actually put up the tweet, but it is obviously reflecting on him anyway. The lesson here is clear: make sure to proof your social media updates before sending, because otherwise, “your” at risk of looking like an idiot.  Mistakes happen, but they can be prevented.

I’ll also add that the person running the Governor’s Twitter account should have sent out a correction – it could have even be spun into another attack on President Obama or Common Core, two of the Governor’s favorite targets, but something should have been sent acknowledging the error and spinning it in a positive manner.

Regardless, this isn’t the attention that Governor wanted: national news for a grammar error.

At least it wasn’t as bad as this State of the Union response that the Governor gave in 2009: