In a previous blog post, I said that Obama and Romney have failed at replying to Twitter followers – as noted by the ‘no replies’ that can be found on their Twitter profiles. They or their campaign have never replied to any of their followers. I said this was an utter failure because they could at least devote a campaign worker to this task, and occasionally have the candidate send a reply to someone.

It’s not rocket science. It’s like texting a friend. After all, a text and a tweet are both limited to 140 characters. It’s like when someone says something to you, you don’t, then, regurgitate your next talking point, you respond to them and acknowledge them. I know, this sounds like a high standard – but it shouldn’t be looked at this way.  We’ve just set the bar really low.

Others agree

So after coming to this conclusion on my own, I saw this great article, that was shared by a professor I had in college. In one part of the article, they bring up the same point. They said:

Neither campaign made much use of the social aspect of social media. Rarely did either candidate reply to, comment on, or “retweet” something from a citizen-or anyone else outside the campaign. On Twitter, 3% of the 404 Obama campaign tweets studied during the June period were retweets of citizen posts. Romney’s campaign produced just a single retweet during these two weeks-repeating something from his son Josh.

And by ‘Rarely did either candidate reply to…’ they mean that they NEVER replied to anyone.

It’s the right strategy

If the candidates truly want to get around traditional media (or lamestream media, as Sarah Palin would say) and talk directly to voters, they need to listen and respond. Otherwise, what’s the difference between saying your latest talking point on Cable TV and tweeting it (besides maybe the audience)? The difference is that on Twitter, you can be ‘social’ with your followers. That’s why they call it social media. It’s a dialogue not a monologue. Twitter is not a real-time digital billboard to push out your BS to anyone who will listen (although, that’s what it’s becoming), it is a real-time conversation with your followers where you talk, listen and respond.

Let’s get practical

  • The candidates could tweet a question and then monitor the response and reply to select people.
  • The candidates could monitor search.twitter.com for a keyword. Let’s say the economy is a hot topic this week; the candidates could monitor tweets relating to the economy and reply with a great news article on the candidates’ website or news website that sets the record straight or just gives more information on what the person is asking. Or, they could simply reply to agree with or acknowledge someone.

In conclusion

With the election only 70 days away, will the candidates actually use social media the way it should be used? Socially? By following this strategy of interacting with followers, there isn’t an easy way to measure the return on investment. But that’s not really the point. Sometimes you should do the right thing without caring about ‘ROI’.

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