Twitter isn’t real life, but it is crucial in the shaping of the political narrative. Twitter is largely dominated by celebrities, entertainers, and journalists, but that means it also draws highly influential opinion makers. And don’t forget that 90% of the network are lurkers. As a campaign, you have to be on Twitter and you have to work on shaping the conversation. If you’re not involved, you’re relinquishing this critical space unchecked to your opponents and journalists.
With campaigns being forced to move entirely online for the foreseeable future, it’s more important than ever that your Twitter strategy is as effective as possible.
It’s also important to note that what works varies from audience to audience and you should always be testing and experimenting based on how different tactics drive key metrics.
Crafting the Perfect Tweet
On Twitter, the Tweet is the atomic unit, so it’s important to spend time structuring the Tweet correctly. You should spend as much time designing the Tweet as you do about debating and wordsmithing what to Tweet. You can’t edit your Tweet and the original message is what will get carried.
In the past, you campaigns could advertise to grow their following within their state or district. Now, with no paid political advertising on Twitter, the only way to grow your following and reach is through engagement. Each Tweet needs to be relevant and offer value – a framework for creating any social media content that applies across platforms.
One framework for writing effective Tweets is:
- Short, one sentence headline that makes your point.
- A line or two explaining your claim
- Then a link, image or video for more context.
While this may seem simple, the difference between a properly structured Tweet and one that delivers a jumbled message is critical when increasing engagement and expanding your following. Simply put, Twitter users do not want to ReTweet or Follow a campaign if they don’t see value in their Tweets.
How Often You Should Tweet
The cadence and frequency on Twitter is more fast-paced than most platforms, that means you need to Tweet 7-10 times per day to remain effective. But don’t panic, you don’t need to produce 7-10 original Tweets on a daily basis. You can and should share the same content multiple times because not everyone is going to see it the first time. You can also share other people’s content (more on that below) in the form of ReTweets and links.
Since not all of your Tweets need to be original, signal boosting others is an important public service your campaign can provide. This is particularly important in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, as you should be amplifying useful policy and health information that is being shared by government entities, elected officials, and other authoritative sources. In the post-Coronavirus world, the concept of signal boosting is still important because your audience will always be seeking educational and informative content that goes beyond promoting your campaign.
Focus on Engagement over Promotion
When discussing your Twitter content, it’s important to remember that strictly promotional content doesn’t perform well because it doesn’t get engagement. Yes, you should promote your campaign, your ideas, and your opinions on current events, but Twitter users want to share information that offers value and teaches them something new.
You can achieve this by Tweeting content that is informative, articulate, or educational.
A few examples of content that is informative and education for your audience based on current events:
- Information on state rules and regulations that have changed
- Updated CDC guidelines
- How the CARES Act impacts your state/district
One aspect of Twitter that is easy to ignore but is critical to engagement is responding to replies and Direct Messages (DMs). The omnipresent Twitter trolls make it far too easy for campaigns to neglect engaging with their audience, but there are legitimate thoughts and questions that voters are directing at you in the replies and DMs. Whether it’s a question about your stance on a specific issue or how an individual can help your campaign, it’s important for you to publicly answer these questions. By responding, you’re not only showing that you’re listening, but others will see that you actually care about their thoughts and concerns and feel more comfortable engaging with you on Twitter.
As you approach your Twitter strategy going forward, it’ll be important to remember these essential tactics to help maximize your impact. In the age of digital campaigning, it’s more important than ever that your online communications with voters are effective and efficient.