Social media is a great tool for connecting with voters and supporters, but it should come with a warning: Post/Tweet at your own risk.
The prisoner exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is just the latest example of politicians and leaders pushing content before they think. Making matters worse, a lot of folks still don’t realize that once it’s posted, the Internet doesn’t forget… even if you haphazardly delete it at a later time.
Too often, campaigns and politicians treat social media as the step child of their communications programs. Therefore, they see no problem with posting, deleting, editing, re-posting, deleting, and so on. It’s a bad policy, and that type of self-censorship and laziness ends up being projected onto voters through over-policing of the campaign’s online presence.
How many times have you really scoured the comments section of political content on Facebook or reviewed some of the mentions toward politicians on Twitter? Anonymous, or not, the ability to directly engage leaders brings out the worst in many people.
No problem, just delete the comments, right? Wrong.
Online or off, censorship is usually the wrong idea. In the realm of social media, it can make a minor annoyance one-hundred times worse. Outside of vulgarities or obscenities, the deletion of content is almost guaranteed to backfire. People posting negative content don’t like you, and silencing them in one location will only embolden them to rally their family, friends, and like-minded allies (who will all have way too much time on their hands, I assure you) to attack you further and make it more personal.
Even though it’s “your” social media account, there are limits to how much you can control. Your social media mistakes and miscues are amplified the more you try to shut things down. Let your friends and allies see the negative comments on your posts, and I guarantee they will rally around you and drown out the negative responses with positive support.
No one bats 1000 on social media, but with a little patience and thoughtfulness, you’ll find yourself well ahead of the pack.