Social Media Best Practices from Gold Mouse Judges
The Congressional Management Foundation’s expansion of its ballyhooed Gold Mouse competition into social media this year makes good sense. After all, more than two-thirds of Members regularly use social media to engage the public.
Doing social media well, however, is just as big a challenge for Members’ staff as any other small advocacy shop or organization — if not more so, given that offices support a single, inherently insular cause: the political well being of their Member.
Buried within its larger report, CMF offers a fine set of tips for social media staff of Members’ offices. Many seem aimed at correcting what Members’ offices seem to be messing up — and no doubt these things are errors advocates off the Hill make, too.
CMF judges’ greatest complaint was that offices get bogged down in picking and choosing the variety of social media platforms now out there and mistake picking which to use with a social media strategy. Effective use of social media requires strategic thinking not only about the tone and style a Member is trying to convey, but the way they will create value for audiences that will keep people coming back for more.
In other words, the exact nuts and bolts of what goes up on a social media platform mattered less than a clear idea of what that information was trying to communicate and a defined style for doing so.
Judges identified four characteristics of Gold Mouse winners:
- Understanding the unique conventions of specific social media platforms — like Instagram is best for first-person visual perspective, or that Pinterest is about collecting and sharing stuff one finds cool (old campaign lit being un-cool).
- A human element. Clearly, digital communication is not the same as a handshake and a conversation with a constituent. But good social media use shows an authentic effort to connect with someone else, and that requires having a bit of personality on display.
- Communicating in ways that are appropriate to the status of the office. Every Member still represents and serves constituents that would never vote for them in a million years. Walling off portions of a constituency with ultra-partisan or permanent-campaign-styled posts may breed distrust from more than the most ardent followers.
- Cross-referencing information across platforms, but realizing that identical content should not appear everywhere.