Tweet or Die: What Candidates Should Say Online After a Loss

The election is over and man, Democrats sure took a beating Tuesday night.  Since then, I've noticed a sharp drop-off in not only campaign ads and GOTV phone calls (hallelujah!), but a drying up of online activity among candidates who, a few days ago, were practically unlocking "Overshare" badges on Foursquare.  (Nerd reference, look it up.) 

I know there's resistance.  "I'm too exhausted/tired/sad/busy and don't have time." "My staff did that, and they're all gone now, so I'm just going to stay quiet for a while."  "The election is over, why should I bother?"  Simple:  Let your social accounts grow stale and you will lose your following.  It's as easy as that.  Tweet or die.

So with that in mind, here are some ways down-but-not-out Democrats can keep their post-election social strength up.  You're welcome.

1. Tell us what the HECK has happened to you since November 2nd.

I don't care if your only news is that your dog peed on the carpet on Election Night - if your last tweet is from November 2nd and says that polls close at seven, you need to update your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Like, yesterday.  Otherwise, Billboard, I'm unfollowing you and probably unfollowing my interest in your future in Texas politics. 

2.  Collect feedback.

Since Tuesday night, I've heard a million and one reasons (some stronger than others) about why Democrats lost.  From consultants to bloggers to Monday morning quarterbacks, the suggestions and advice and "should haves" have been endless.  I don't believe in perfection and while some may chalk this cycle up to a national trend or a toxic environment, there has to be something that each campaign can learn from this election. I've been watching most of the Democrats I follow on Twitter and Facebook with a bit of a morbid curiosity to see if any of them asked the voters what they think could have been done differently, either within the campaign or on a larger scale.  Yes, we're just people who pull the lever (or, more accurately, turn the wheel), but we also see things that candidates -- and their campaign teams -- don't.  While the advice may not be something that could have changed the outcome of a historically bad election cycle, it could help down the road.  Storytime: 
One year, I completely stopped blockwalking for a campaign because they printed their walk sheets in a way that just listed all of the targeted houses for each street on one sheet of paper, rather than breaking it up between odd and even house numbers on two separate pieces of paper.  It made blockwalking confusing and it made it take forever.  I happened to mention it to the campaign manager after the election and he apologized, saying they had done it that way because they wanted to save money by saving paper.  But they also lost a blockwalker, which some might say is more valuable.

3.  Give thanks.

I can't tell you how many candidate's post-election emails I've read in the last two days that said "While I can't begin to thank everyone on my staff..."  Really?  Sure, you don't want to list off a gazillion names in a mass email to all of your supporters but let's talk about another great place where you can publicly thank people: Facebook.  Use the "@" symbol in a status update to tag those you want to thank -- you can tag up to six people in each one.  How about a status update a day until you list all your best staffers?  Or upload a photo of you and your staff and tag them in it with a simple "Thank you" in the caption.  Write a poignant note on Facebook and tag your staff. Find out which ones are on Twitter and mention them for #FollowFriday. Never underestimate the staying power of "Thank you."  It could come in handy the next time you want someone to answer your call.

4.  Start being a human again.

We live in Texas.  Texans don't vote for suits, they vote for dudes who go skeet shooting.  Even if those dudes are terrible Governors, "they go skeet shooting" is the takeaway that most people will remember.  There's a constant chatter in social media, PR and marketing worlds these days about "developing your personal brand."  Political candidates have a tough time with this and it's something they oftentimes only start working on when they decide to run for office.  Even then, these personal brands become veneers made up of what consultants or pollsters told them their brand should be, rather than the person they actually are.  The time to start a blog about your intense love of green energy isn't when you hire a campaign treasurer, it's when you realize you have an intense love of green energy.  If you're out there fighting for water rights every day, it's time to start letting people know nowTumblr and Posterous are free, easy-to-use platforms that make blogging as easy as sending an email or text message.  Start a video blog if you don't like to write.  Live tweet your City Council meetings.  If you care about education and you're an educator, post photos of your desk at school on Facebook.  Show your human side.  People vote for humans.  Don't let us forget about you.

The reason online organizing works is the same reason online organizing doesn't work:  it takes time to build a strong online base.  It's up to you to invest that time.  Whether you're planning to run for office again or you just want to crawl under a blanket with a pint of ice cream and hide out till January, candidates and past elected officials should stay connected with their social networks as much as possible.  After all, these people ultimately gave you one of the greatest gifts a citizen can: they voted for you.
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