Like any marriage, the union of politicians and social media either becomes a match made in heaven or it turns into Armageddon. Some politicians have the knack for social media engagement. Others, not so much. Some political analysts refer to social media as the “central nervous system” of campaign organizations. The analogy fits, as long as the politician realizes the potential for developing a deadly central nervous system disorder. If you plan to run for office, avoid these 10 political social media bloopers.
1. I Built It But They Didn’t Come Syndrome
Politicians and social media can only dance together if they are in the same room. Some politicians seem to think that simply building social media pages makes them look hip. Wrong thinking! Social media only helps the cause if you use it.
2. Enigmatic Icon Syndrome
Believe it or not, many people, especially older folks, have not memorized the URL for every social media website. A television or print ad that just features the social media icon and says “follow me” does not help people find your page. Despite technological advances, most people do not have the type of toys that let them click on a print magazine ad and auto-magically make the page appear on their PC. Always list a URL, and while you’re at it, make it easy to remember.
3. Talking About Your New Dog While Your Country Is in a State of Crisis
This next political social media blooper was brought to you by President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina. When she went to the hospital for a brain operation, her country spent almost one month without a constitutional government. Not that it really made a difference. Inflation continued to soar, the currency reserves of the Central Bank continued is decline, and the price of food continued to increase. Upon her return from the hospital, she announced her reappearance on Twitter, then on YouTube. She spent one-third of her video talking about Simon, a mucuchie puppy -apparently the national dog of Venezuela. The pooch was a gift from the brother of the deceased Hugo Chavez Frias. Supposedly, the Liberator Simon Bolivar had one, which is why they named him Simon. She decided not to talk about rising inflation, declining reserves, train accidents resulting from neglect and lack of investment, the drug trafficking that has increased the crime rate, and the irrational restrictions on trade. She did remember to tell everyone that Simon the Dog has a Twitter account.
4. Bad Choice of Social Media Manager
During the height of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, a tweeter who went by @ComfortablySmug decided to spread a series of false tweets. He reported on a total blackout in Manhattan, on a flood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and a multitude of disasters that never really took place. Savvy researchers soon discovered that the tweeter was a hedge-fund analyst and the campaign manager for Christopher R. Wight, a Republican candidate for New York’s 12th Congressional District. Although Wight did not realize this was happening, this social media bloopers implies that he is a poor judge of character when it comes to choosing staff members. This is not a quality one looks for in a politician.
5. Spelling Errors
Online hilarity ensued when the Mitt Romney website featured some rather interesting spelling errors. A Facebook page button leading to the campaign’s store was misspelled “2012 OFFICAL GEAR.” When the Romney campaign issued their “With Mitt” app, it contained a photo frame that said A Better Americia. Meanwhile, in Obamaland:
6. OOPS! Wrong Account
If you decide to have a personal and a political social media page, check your login before you start posting. Anything you say on social media can be used against your political campaign, so exercise caution.
7. Blocking People Who Disagree With You
Effective politicians do not fear dissent. If you block people who disagree with you, how are you going to change their minds?
8. Taking Your Ball and Going Home
Leaving in the middle of a discussion, debate or disagreement on another politician’s page is another political social media blooper. Doing so shows supporters that you lack the courage of your convictions.
9. Inadequate Security Measures
In 2008, the Obama and McCain campaigns websites were the victims of a high-tech hack. Investigators believed that agents of foreign governments launched the attack. Whether it was political in nature, or just a couple of geeky kids out for bragging rights, a hacked political social media page reflects badly upon the candidate. If you can not keep your website safe, how will you protect your constituents?
10. Exposing Yourself
We saved the best – or actually the worst – political social media blooper for last. Two words: Andrew Weiner. Sure, as a politician, you might attract a bit of hero worship from your fans, but don’t send them pictures of your private parts. Besides, you know what they say: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” You might even be sexting a muchuchie puppy named Simon.