Originally posted in May 2013 by Social Media Contractors

There was an election here in Omaha yesterday. Someone with a “D” behind their name was trying to get re-elected as mayor by fending off a person with an “R” behind their name.

As with any election, when you hear the spin doctors talking about what message matters to this “group” or that “group,” they seem to completely forget the delivery system. As I have watched this election I have realized that, yes, I am a middle-aged white male in the suburbs and I am one of “Those Groups.” However, I missed the debate on TV so I am left making my decisions based on 15-30 second sound bites that are mostly focused on negative stuff.

Boring at best and exhausting at the worst. What about substance? How can I learn about you and what you stand for 30 seconds at a time? Why would I trust your website? How can I have a relationship with a candidate or cause that is longer than 30 seconds?

As my partner Adrian likes to point out, social media can be used to do three things:

  1. Curate content (broadcast stuff of value)
  2. Create new content
  3. Converse

And, anyone can do it. And, it is amazingly affordable. And, you can target and reach out to specific demographics of people. And, you can target specific geographical areas.

If you directly inform your constituents what you really believe, you begin to establish a relationship and you can control the message. You don’t need to trust any media to present your story or position.

Why are local politicians and most political groups not using these new, inexpensive, and highly effective ways to control their messages, build communities, and become involved with conversations?  Good social media takes time, forethought, and planning. Politics are usually about immediate gratification.

If these groups could look past the next election and into the future and actually build a relationship based on education and value with their target communities, this could be the beginning of a success strategy for the future. If the political groups can establish relationships based on value and trust and not grade-school banter, then they will have a shot at actually being heard. If you can actually be heard when it comes time for an election, you can control the message and become the source of news.

Most people base their opinions on information from friends, people, and sources they trust. Today, those sources are often broadcast on social media. These are relationships that take time to build but have long-term value.

To all the folks with a “D,” an “R,” or an “Agenda,” if you want success, take the time to build your communities, educate us on what you believe, and converse with us so we can create a trusted relationship with you. Our political world is so cynical and controlled by just a few news sources. Social media can be your printing press and allow you to create a trusted relationship with the groups that matter.

Kris Kluver is the founder of SMC and Pro-Social Media.

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