Attending the Public Affairs Council Grassroots Conference recently I had the pleasure of hearing Nick Schaper of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talk about social media and his list of “Do’s” when it comes to using it successfully in communicating with Congress. I dutifully noted them down and later realized how much they remind me of the basics we all learned –or should have learned – in kindergarten.
- Be a real person. We enjoy social media because it is social. No one wants to be stuck talking to the PR hack or overly earnest zealot at a cocktail party and no one wants that on Facebook or Twitter either. Many mothers tell their children to “be themselves.” We should do that as well.
- Stand out. Everyone has something special about them they should focus on and use to garner (positive) attention. What do you bring to the sandbox?
- Be nice. Going negative can be easy, especially to be clever. And opposing something can often drive more passion, but how can you reposition that to be positive? Also, if you offer support or repost or share tweets of others they will be more likely to retweet or share your posts.
- Make friends. This works the same way it did in kindergarten. Approach and engage in a way that shows as much interest in the other person as you would want yourself. Too many people treat social media as a case of “But enough about me…what do YOU think about me?”
- Be useful. Provide data or facts in your posts and tweets. Make people want to come back because they can get something from you other than your opinion - or worse – talking points.
And importantly be reasonable in your social media engagements with Congress. Schaper made the important observation that social media, as great a tool as it is, is creating more work for the already overburdened Hill staff. Ask yourself, if you were already slammed, which posts, tweets or people would you begin to disregard after awhile, especially if they were the opposite of the suggestions listed above? Social media should be the outgrowth of the tools we learned when making friends that first day in school… only without the whole paste-eating part.