Social Media in the Madison Mayoral Campaigns

In my previous post, I outlined the web presence of the Madison mayoral candidates, but now I want to delve a bit further into how they are actually using social media.  According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of online adults use Facebook, making it the most popular social media website, whereas only 23% use Twitter.  As such, when it comes to campaigns, social media can be a powerful tool to organize followers, inform them, and engage in discussions with possible voters.  It can be even more powerful if the candidates use their various accounts in conjunction with each other, not just as separate entities.  With three months until the April election, I expected to see websites and social media channels that work together to coordinate the candidate’s message.

Every candidate has at least one website, one Facebook page, and one Twitter account.  Generally speaking, the online base for a campaign is the website.  Accordingly, I would expect to see the Facebook and Twitter icons so that visitors could check those out in addition to the website.  Of the five mayoral candidates, only Bridget Maniaci has the icons to both Facebook and Twitter.  Scott Resnick and Paul Soglin have the Facebook icons, but Christopher Daly and Richard Brown have no icons.  This leads to two questions- 1) Why do Daly and Brown not have the links, and 2) Why is it that Maniaci is the only one to link to Twitter?  If candidates want to use social media to its full potential they should include the links to all accounts on their website’s main page and make them easy to locate on that page (not at the very bottom underneath the treasurer information).

As for Twitter, this particular social media site allows users to include a URL in their profile.  This is a great opportunity for candidates to link to their campaign’s main website or Facebook.  Only Maniaci and Daly take advantage of this opportunity- Daly links to his Facebook page, while Maniaci links to her campaign website.  Mayor Soglin has a link, but it is to his own website, Waxing America.

It would also be in the best interests of the candidates to change their Twitter profile to include something to the extent of “The official Twitter account for (insert name), candidate to become Madison’s next mayor.”  If not that, then briefly tell visitors about your ideas.  One way to do this effectively would be to use hashtags.  For example, “Candidate for Madison mayor. Supports #sustainability, #publiceducation, and #transportation.”  This way, candidates not only share a glimpse of what they believe in, but when any Twitter user searches for those hashtags, their profile comes up, thereby increasing their reach.  Along these lines, it would also make things easier for voters if candidates used just one Twitter account for their campaign.  Right now, Maniaci and Mayor Soglin each have two accounts, and it is unclear if either one is the official campaign account.

Since more people are likely to use Facebook than any other social media site, candidates should definitely ensure their accounts are full of information.  Unlike Twitter, Facebook has no character limit; therefore, candidates should expand on their ideas.  Besides the main campaign website, candidates should put their platform on Facebook.  They should also include links to the campaign website, other social media accounts, and ways to contact the campaign.

Social media can be extremely powerful, especially as a campaign tool.  In the race to become Madison’s next mayor, candidates should consider how they can use their accounts effectively to reach possible voters, inform them, and most importantly, engage with them in discussion.

Thanks for reading.

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