10 Things Nan Rich Needs To Do On Social Media

nanNan Rich is the only declared democratic candidate for Florida’s governor race in 2014.  She’s already picked up significant endorsements.  And, yet, she’s in danger of becoming the sunshine state’s Rodney Dangerfield: she don’t get no respect.  (Except by Republicans.)

It’s clear that she’s going to have to fight an insurgent’s battle for the office, and that means harnessing social media.  Unfortunately, she’s only lightly used social media so far, and that light use isn’t giving her the boost she needs to capture Tallahassee.  I’ve posted other articles comparing the results she gets on Twitter to other potential candidates, and it’s obvious that she is way behind.

But that can change. Senator Rich can quickly improve her use of social media and end up dominating the conversation in the race.  To achieve that improvement there are 10 simple things Rich needs to do:

#1: Use Specialized Social Media Tools

Most people use the various web sites and applications the social platforms provide.  People log into Facebook’s website to post updates.  People use the Twitter iPhone application to send tweets.  These applications work fine, but they produce a sort of stream of consciousness, haphazard, unplanned result.  

When you look at how Nan Rich uses social media, she very much uses it like other people do. But most people aren’t trying to win high office!

Candidates like Rich need to consistently hit their talking points, encourage donations and participation from supporters, and excite followers to stay engaged in the conversation.  That requires a careful, well thought out use of social media, and that thoughtful usage requires professional tools.  There’s a wide variety of tools on the market, but in general they share some common attributes:

  • The have a single, common interface to post on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  A single message can be sent out across a variety of channels in a way that is appropriate for each channel. 
  • They are available on the web as well as via mobile apps.  You can take a picture on the iPhone and publish it simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter, and Goolge+, for example.
  • They can publish tweets, Facebook posts, etc., on an optimal schedule rather than having them go out the door the moment they’re authored.  You can write your tweets at 3am but have them released at 10am. 
  • They can track the click-thrus on links.  This is how to know the response various posts have generated, and is the key to testing and tuning messaging on social media.
  • They support a team of people working on social media on the candidate’s behalf.  This allows additional eyes monitoring responses coming back via social media and giving the candidate a cat-like ability to pounce on trends.

There’s a lot of tools out there, and a lot of them that are specialized for politics.  But an inexpensive way to start is by using Hootsuite, which costs $9 a month for the level sufficient to support a campaign (at least until a much larger social media presence is needed).


Adopting a tool like this may not be a requirement for optimal use of Social Media, but it’s a big help.  Just by switching to better tools, Senator Rich would see immediate benefits, and it would enable her to take on the rest of the to-dos in this post.

 #2: Separate Messages for Separate Networks

Right now, Rich sends about 2/3rds of her Twitter updates automatically from Facebook: when she posts something new, Facebook automatically tweets a link back to the Facebook post. It’s convenient, a kind of BOGO of social media.

But the automated tweet generation is problematic. Sometimes, what shows up in Twitter is just painfully cryptic:

Mystery Tweet!

Mystery Tweet!

 Other times, Facebook takes a perfectly fine posting like this:

It has a picture and everything!

It has a picture and everything!

And delivers a truncated version on Twitter:

Where's the rest?

Where’s the rest?

Worse than just having truncated text:  there’s no picture in the Tweet, just a link back to Facebook.  Facebook wants you to see the picture surrounded by Facebook ads, of course.  

By using a specialized social media management app like Hootsuite, one can still get a two-fer (compose once, post twice or thrice or …) so long as the text of the message stays within the limits of every network (e.g., < 140 characters for Twitter).  The message will be posted properly to each network — so a photograph will show up everywhere. 

#3: Be Social, Interact with People

Since February first, over 600 people have mentioned the senator on Twitter.  She’s responded to 5 of them.   Numerous people have left comments on her Facebook page; I am hard pressed to find an example of where she replied to their comments.  This lack of interaction has resulted in poor engagement across social media: Charlie Crist has 20 times as many followers on Twitter and Facebook as Senator Rich does.  Governor Scott has even more.  These are the people and metrics she needs to beat.

happy laptopIn the future, if the senator makes the effort to reply to tweets and comments, the people making them will be encouraged to make more of them. That will help build the buzz and grow her follower counts.

This increased engagement comes about not just because of the warm fuzzy feeling of a personal, Nan Rich reply; it comes about because the networks encourage it. Twitter, for example, sends out email notifications to people when they get replies.    So even though the senator does not have the email address of people on Twitter, replying to them will cause an email to be sent.  The power of that is phenomenal.

It’s pretty simple for the senator to get started on increasing her interaction with people:

  • Always try to respond to people who mention her, at least those who are positive.
  • Ask everyone questions about current events (“What do you think about …..?”).  And then dialog with people who respond.
  • Say nice things about people that have little to do with the campaign but are active on Social Media. 

Beyond just talking to the public in general, it’s important to cultivate political reporters,  bloggers, and activists.  These people can amplify the senator’s messages better than anyone else.

#4: Bigger Variety!

Senator Rich has only a very few topics she posts about consistently on Social Media:

Past Event  (Photo/Thank You) 49%
Issues 26%
News Item Link 9%
Notice of upcoming events 3%

Just like nobody wants to eat at a restaurant with only 4 things on the menu, people are less likely to follow somebody on social media if the posts are mostly all the same.  Senator Rich needs to add in a larger variety of topics.

First and foremost, Senator Rich needs to focus on getting people to participate in her campaign. The closest thing to a call to action I’ve seen is asking people to follow her on Twitter.  This is a glaring oversight.

Click to enlarge image

A Taxonomy of Political Tweets

Beyond that, there are many topics for her to discuss:

She almost never mentions her legislative accomplishments.   Yet past performance resonates as a better indicator of how she’s govern than mere promises.

People also enjoy the minutia of personal life.  Marco Rubio excelled at that: his discussion of family life connected well with the public.  This is the opportunity to show a human side, a sense of humor, a quick wit.

There’s a lot of examples out there of successful social media campaigns.  Last year I distilled the various messages candidate tend to send out and created a tweet generator for candidates.  Give it a try (it’s free) — it’s great for brainstorming.

#5: Announce Events Well in Advance

megaphoneIt’s nice that Senator RIch almost always posts notes about events she’s attended, but there’s something a bit odd about mentioning events only after they’ve been held!  She needs to post frequently about where she’s going to be.  In fact, I challenge you, dear reader, to tell me where Rich is going to be for the next two weeks.  I’ll make it as easy as I can: here are some links to look at to find the answer:

Find anything? Maybe one or two events if you’re lucky, publicized haphazardly by the people sponsoring the events.   Imagine you wanted to see your favorite band but only discovered they were in town after the fact when you saw photos of the event on Facebook! That’s kind of how it is now…

You never know when people will decide to attend an event, and posts that encourage people to attend events can help grow the crowds.

#6: More More More!

On average, Rich sends out one post a day; on many days there’s nothing.  While increasing the variety of social media posts, Senator Rich needs to increase the number of posts per day — 2 or 3 a day should be an immediate goal.

stack papersThe challenge with social media is that posts have a very short lifespan: things an hour or two old tend to fall off the radar.  When the election grows near, Senator Rich should have something happening on social media every few hours of the waking day, every day.  It’s the only way to get noticed consistently.  She doesn’t want to spam the world, but as she grows her variety (from #5), she can easily get up to 5 or 6 posts a day in the build up to the primary.

By using the kind of social media application described in point 1, Rich can compose and schedule a whole bunch of posts well in advance at her convenience.   And by replying to people consistently, she can generate activity without having to force the conversation.

#7: More Networks

pinterestPosting on Facebook and Twitter is state of the art … circa 2008.  Senator Rich needs to branch out.  First and foremost, she needs to post photos on Pinterest.  Pinterest has a heavy female demographic, and the endorsements from NOW show that women are a potent source of backers.  Senator Rich should also look into creating a tumblr.com blog, using Instagram for posting photos, and youtube.com for videos.  If I were to rank them, in priority, I would pick:

  1. Youtube
  2. Pinterest
  3. Instagram
  4. Tumbler
  5. Google+

That’s not the order by difficulty, though, which is why Pinterest rises to the top.

#8: Hashtags on Twitter, especially #Sayfie

sayfieHashtags are a great hook to get people to read your tweets.  In the past several months, Senator Rich has sent a tweet with a hashtag about 3 times, and 2 of those were re-tweets.

Just about every one of her Tweets should include the hashtag #Sayfie to ensure it is spotted by Florida’s political elites.  Other hashtags should be added as appropriate.  Here are the common hashtags people use:

  • #safie
  • #florida
  • #pfla
  • #p2

#9: Follow the Leaders on Twitter — and the Followers

Senator Rich is following a handful of the usual suspects of Florida politics on Twitter, but not really the cream of the crop of politicians (and political activists) who are on Twitter.  She needs to follow, and read, people who are the masters; people who have huge followings.  The people she follows now have about 12000 followers on average, but most are around a 1000 or less.  Interesting and successful people, but she needs to learn from people who have 100,000 followers.

She also needs to follow more “normal” people. Following normal people does two important things.  First, these people are more likely to pay attention in return.  Anyone who’s a somebody in Florida politics should be followed. Second, it encourages people to tweet to you as they feel they will be heard — Twitter makes it more likely you’ll see messages from people you follow.  As new people tweet positive comments about the senator, the senator should follow them.  

Senator Rich might consider signing up for networks like Unite Blue that encourages people to follow other members — it will help put her on the national radar.  

And she should probably stop following that Rachel Maddow parody account… 

#10: Harness the Power of Supporters

At a certain point, there’s only so much buzz the senator can create herself — after that, it’s up to her followers.  They need to be encouraged to tweet, share, re-tweet, reply, and repost.  They can keep the conversation about the senator’s candidacy alive even when the senator has down time.

This encouragement can be as simple as “Retweet this if you think that Gov Scott should …”.  It really works if you’re on top of the conversation.

There are even tools to completely automate the process, such as donateyouraccount.com.  It allow supporters to sign up to have their social media accounts be used to broadcast messages by the campaign.  As the campaign staff starts to grow leaders of the team can begin to reach out on social media as well to keep the level of conversation at its highest.

Bonus: #11: Collect People’s Email Addresses!

Email is kind of the first social network.  And all campaigns collect people’s email addresses to mail them updates, fundraising pitches, etc. Except Senator Rich’s.  

Nowhere on her web site can you simply sign-up for emails. That needs to be fixed immediately.  (Along with regular emails being sent out to the list).


Ten is an arbitrary number of ideas (which I wasn’t even able to keep to), but I think they offer a great starting point for Senator Rich to establish a strong beachhead in social media.  Now’s a great time to grow a following.  In the thick of the campaign, a huge following will help to both get the senator’s messages out as well as mute the messaging from the opposing campaigns.

The people of Florida deserve to hear Senator Rich’s voice, but she will have to raise it on social media for that to happen.  Whatever the right choice is for each Florida voter, they can’t make it if they don’t know about all the options they have.