4 Lessons in Social Media From Midterm Candidates

4 Lessons in Social Media From Midterm Candidates
By Sue Zoldak and Hope Evans


Running a campaign can get expensive, as is evident in the race for the senate seat in North Carolina, but some midterm candidates are reaching voters by utilizing free tools: social media. This midterm season, there are four important lessons to learn that will help harness the power of platforms like Twitter and Facebook leading up to Election Day.



1) Tailoring content on a platform by platform basis.

Facebook allows for almost unlimited content, links, and more, while Twitter gives users 140 characters to quickly tell their story. It’s important to format each post based on which platform it will be distributed so that readers aren’t confused or misled. In the push for the senate seat in Louisiana, Senator Mary Landrieu and her team are taking the time to consider the platform before posting. Her tweets are short and to the point, while her Facebook posts are a bit more detailed without becoming wordy. It is clear that Landrieu and her team craft each post, ensuring a genuine tone and a presentation that makes sense for the medium.

2) Knowing the audience.

Senator Claire McCaskill has taken to Twitter, as an official candidate and as a citizen of Missouri, to promote her latest campaign, “Claire on Campus,” aimed at raising awareness of sexual violence and assault on college campuses. With about 60% of millennials actively using Twitter, McCaskill is leveraging the act of tweeting in particular to keep young voters engaged with up-to-date photos and information regarding the campaign.

3) Using social media for positive optics.

In what many are considering to be the “sleeper race” for the 2014 midterm elections, former Senator Scott Brown is using Twitter and Facebook to help recapture the senate seat in New Hampshire. Considered to be a retail state, Brown is taking advantage of stopping by restaurants, coffee shops, and stores to talk with New Hampshire voters, taking pictures and tweeting the visits. With the competitive advantage of a far greater audience on both Facebook (381,341 likes) and Twitter (67,187 followers), Brown’s strategic use of portraying himself as a neighbor and friend may pull him out from trailing only 3 points behind his opponent.

4) Understanding the power of trending.

This past week, former Governor Charlie Crist learned the hard way of how one clever hashtag can quickly escalate and follow a campaign for days. #Fangate caught the attention not only of other audience members during the debate between current Florida Governor Rick Scott and Crist, but morphed into spin-off jokes such as #Fanghazi and even made an appearance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. In the end, it didn’t matter that Governor Rick Scott was so flustered by the scheduling hiccup that his team requested a rescheduling of the debate: it only mattered that Crist didn’t have his fan. The unique and disruptive nature of Crist’s need for cool air during the debate was all audience members needed to start sending out snarky tweets.

Having an active presence on social media to speak to voters, whether they are in the candidate’s corner or still undecided, will only ever make a campaign stronger. Its shareable and visually appealing nature can prove extremely beneficial in displaying the differences between candidates and may just be what’s needed to attract voters.