It's officially Election Season, y'all. Petitions are due in noon on Thursday -- THIS Thursday, Feb. 20 -- if you want to run for office. And boy, are a lot of you running.
We know some of you are still working out the kinks of getting a campaign website set up, but we've noticed a lot of you are doing things on social media that you absolutely should not be doing. We want you all to run great campaigns and connect with voters, so we're here to help.
First of all, you should have a website and it should have your preferred contact information on it. If you want the media to find you, that website should show high up in Google results too. You should have a Facebook page for your campaign, too -- reporters don't want to "friend" you to know where your campaign events are happening. Finally, you should have a Twitter presence -- it's a good way to get information out quickly and connect with voters. (For even more details, Joe Lance has a great column about this stuff.)
Many of you already have set up Twitter accounts, and that's wonderful! (We're trying to follow all of you, but if we haven't, please tweet directly @metropulse. Tell us to follow you, and we will.) But a lot of you are new to Twitter (and, possibly, to Facebook), and you have NO IDEA what you're doing. And it's driving us crazy.
So, to show you what to do and not do, we're posting some examples. Please don't take these as an indication of bias towards or against any candidate, because it's not. We really just want to help you all out, we swear. Because it's going to be a long spring and summer otherwise.
1.) DO NOT post a link to something on Facebook with no content.
No one is going to click through and see what that link is. Seriously, no one. No one is going to click on these either:
And if you keep doing it? Over and over?
If we weren't obligated to follow you for reportorial reasons, we would unfollow each and every one of you doing this, and there are a lot of you. We are following you on Twitter for a reason, and that reason is definitely not to know every time you post a picture to Facebook. We're all for pictures -- the more, the merrier (as long as you don't go the Anthony Weiner route). We're not saying you need to take as many selfies as @TimBurchett, but if you're going to be on Twitter, figure out how to upload those pictures of you campaigning directly to Twitter and not just Facebook. It's not hard, we promise.
2.) DO NOT post your Facebook status updates automatically to Twitter if they are too long for Twitter.
Twitter has a 140-character limit for a reason. If you want to write a longer statement, that's cool. But don't post a fragment of a statement that makes us click to Facebook to read the rest of it. It's annoying. And depending on the reader's mobile Twitter platform, he or she might not be able to read it. Not everyone on Twitter is on Facebook, so don't assume that they are.
This goes for Instagram too.
If your viewer is on a mobile Twitter app, it will just show the picture, not the full Instagram statement. So keep your captions short and sweet, or rewrite them for the different apps. Automation is not always your friend.
3.) DO NOT retweet yourself.
So you've got a personal Twitter account and a separate one for your campaign? That's fine. But if we wanted to know what you were saying on your personal account, we'd be following it. Actually, we probably already are following it. There is no reason to retweet yourself ever. EVER. EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER.
4.) DO NOT retweet every person who mentions you. Especially do not do this if they are actually telling other people to follow you.
We know it's pretty cool when you finally start getting followers and people start getting excited about your campaign. And we wholeheartedly encourage interacting with your followers and people who mention you on Twitter -- that's why people love @TimBurchett and @MayorRogero's accounts, because they will actually answer your questions or reply with a joke. You see that little star next to the RT option? That's what you should be using. Favorite people's tweets of praise, don't retweet them. (Unless it's someone very prominent offering an endorsement.) And retweeting tweets that tell people to follow you is just silly, because only people that are already following you will see those tweets. And it will just annoy those followers. And you don't wan't to annoy your followers because what if you lose a vote?
5) DO be consistent in how you refer to yourself.
If you're the only person running your Twitter account, there is no need to refer to yourself in the third person. It's silly. But we understand a lot of you might have campaign staff or interns sometimes manning the account, in which case it's incredibly silly for them to pretend to be speaking in your voice. But whatever you do, however you do it, be consistent. You can use initials at the end of a tweet to signify that it's actually you, the candidate, posting -- this is what the White House staff does on the President and First Lady's accounts. You can use third person for staff and first person when you're using it, like @MayorRogero. But be careful to not be confusing.
So what happened here? Is this tweet in the third person because McMillian didn't take the picture himself? Which means he has campaign staff watching him give blood, which seems kinda creepy? However, this McMillian tweet is even more egregious:
You're quoting yourself? With quote marks and attribution? WHYYYYYYYY? It's your Twitter account. Yours. No one else's. Please don't ever do this again.
6.) DO understand how Twitter functions.
Every day we are amazed at the number of people who use Twitter daily for their jobs and still don't understand how it works. Whether or not you use Twitter actively in your campaign, please make sure you get a basic grasp for how things work. For example, DO NOT do this:
See how that tweet starts with an @-mention? See how there's no space or character before that @-mention? That means only people who follow both @CarrforTN AND @RepJoeCarr will see that tweet. If you don't follow @RepJoeCarr, you won't see the tweet in your timeline at all. This is because when you @-reply someone and start a conversation with them, not everyone who follows you necessarily cares. But if you're mentioning someone and not replying directly to them, you want other people to see that tweet. So, put a period in front of the @, like this:
See how there's not a period in front of @MayorRogero? You only need it if you want a mention to be at the very beginning of your tweet and you also want everyone that follows you to see that tweet. If you're still hopelessly confused, read this. And this.
Other advice: be judicious in your use of hashtags, block trolls instead of engaging with them, and don't forget to follow people. Follow reporters and news organizations, follow your friends and donors, follow other politicians, follow your favorite businesses in Knoxville -- whatever. Twitter is a conversation. Participate in it. It's more fun that way.