There are thousands of social media sites, which for someone who hasn’t even got a Facebook profile must be overwhelming. Whilst I have written about creating a profile network I realise that to start with many politicians will need to take a few ‘baby’ steps into the realm of social media and enabling their constituents to find information about them and their work on-line.
The reasons for doing this is to both ensure that when users of a particular social network search for you they find content that you have produced and control. Additionally search engines will crawl these sites frequently so when a constituent searches for you they will be offered several options to gain access to your content.
I take for granted that you already have a website. If you do not I no longer think this is as essential as it once was and a well formed blog can actually do the same if not better job than any website.
Five Social Media must do for politicians
If you do nothing else, you should do the following now:
1) Write your social profile, this will be invaluable when you add your details to any social networking site as all you will need to do is copy and paste the same details into the description or about me box. Think about how you would sell yourself in a couple of hundred words. Remember to ensure that anything you write is as non-time specific as possible as you may not revisit the content for a long time if at all.
2) Set up a blog, use the social profile that you have created to create an about page. Include a contact page with details of how constituents can reach you. Don’t write ‘Welcome to my blog I will update this frequently’ and then don’t. Pointless introductions are a waste of both yours and the readers time – get straight in there with the content and add periodically.
3) Set up a YouTube page, recording at least three short videos about key local issues. A good example of this would be the Val Shawcross YouTube Channel. Enter details from your social profile into the description section.
4) If you have not already create a Facebook profile that is publicly viewable. If you already have a profile and wish to use it for both personal and professionals reasons ensure that you utilise the Facebook privacy features. Whilst you are at it create a Bebo profile as well. Bebo is bigger among younger people and if you are not in this environment you will miss this key audience. Bebo also often performs better on Google for search results with the whole of your profile visible to the search engine where Facebook only provides full details when you are signed in and therefore not seen by the engines crawler.
5) Start Twittering. Twitter is a microblog which is quick and easy to update with messages about
you. This is a very effective and easily manageable method of keeping constituents informed about the work you are doing.
One of the greatest compliments is to be copied, however if you are a famous person someone pretending to be you is full of hazards especially if they use your photograph, name, location and age to try and persuade people they are you then write as you saying things you may not want to be associated with.
Facebook has always been a haven for false personalities, how on earth Benny Hill has a profile page when he died long before Facebook was even thought off, whilst his profile has clearly been created by a fan other profiles have a far more sinister motive.
Whilst I guess it may be funny to have Gordon Brown coming out with ridiculous things on the false profile page on Facebook, for others it could be extremely confusing when trying to find the real person.
You can report a fake profile by clicking the ‘Report this person’ link at the bottom of the page. This is only available currently if privacy settings set by the person who created the page allow you to view the profile. If you can only view after becoming their friend you cannot report this way as you cannot report your ‘friends’ or unless you are in a profile. If this is the case visit the report someone form.
Fake profiles also expose the importance of having a real profile. If you do not have a real Facebook profile then it is even easier for someone to pass themselves off as you and if they initially act in a sensible way could build a legitimate group of friends who may be unaware they are not friends with the real person.
The benefits of having of a profile are many but the primary one being that if someone searches for you within Facebook they find content you have control over and allowing you to share with a wider audience all the hard work that you do for your constituents.
Will the real Gordon Brown please get a real Facebook profile
Not all fake profiles are negative, some are just set up by supporters frustration with the politicians lack of ability to keep up with the every changing social media environment. However if they cannot keep up their advisers and communications staff must.
As part of my research into social networks I recently joined Bebo, a social network popular in the UK and in particular among younger people.
After being an avid Facebook user for some time I wasn’t overwhelmed by the service, however added my profile details and added a link to the page to my homepage at wellbelove.com.
Being a regular egosurfer I was surprised that despite the fact that my Facebook page has been available for much longer my Bebo page was appearing higher in the Google results for a search of Christopher Wellbelove. This has since switched, however it is telling of the importance Google places on Bebo that my Bebo page has appeared on the first page of Google results so quickly.
Whilst I realise it is difficult to maintain profiles on so many sites, the benefits are clear. If Google places a high importance on Bebo then having a profile here that points to your main website, together with your pages on other social networks, by creating a profile on Bebo you will increase their rank and ensure that for users who choose the Bebo network they are still able to access some information about should they search in that network for you.
My Squidoo page, set up at a similar time as my Bebo profile, today appeared above both my Facebook and Bebo profiles in my Google egosurf. You can discover more about services like Squidoo in my article ‘Bringing it all together’.
In short, if you want the widest audience to find you, you need to invest time in placing content where the audience is – on the networks they know and trust. If you want search engines to focus on content you own, you need to invest time in creating these pages, interlinking them so that search engines will trust your profile network as an authority on information about you.