Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’
Just as the Internet gives businesses the opportunity to speak directly with their customers and staff, the net allows politicians to talk to their constituencies without going through the mass media gatekeepers that have controlled political communications for most of the last century.
However there are risks with this as the Internet increases accountability and magnifies gaffes; a mistake in a remote electorate that may not have been even noticed by the press corps ten years ago can today be the lead story on the evening news thanks to an audience member with a mobile phone.
Communicating on the Internet is more than just a website, a Facebook page, YouTube channel or a Twitter account.
This article uses the word “Internet” rather than “social media” or “social networking” deliberately — while every social platform and online communication channel brings its own unique set of circumstances, there are common themes all these platforms possess;
1. You’ve put it in writing
As soon as a tweet, blog post or email is sent or published, it is in writing against your name. Nothing is deniable. So if you wouldn’t put something in a letter, don’t put it on the Internet.
2. Everything you do online is permanent
You can delete an email, tweet or blog post after sending it but there will always be a copy somewhere. Nothing on the net is ever completely deleted. So think before pressing send.
3. All online comment is publishing
Prior to the Internet, publishing involved owning or hiring a printing press, radio station or television studio. Today anyone with a £300 computer or mobile phone is a publisher. Every time you press “submit” you are publishing a comment with all the same potential consequences as writing an article or campaign flier.
4. Off line rules apply online
Many people on the net have the idea rules don’t apply online. Those people are wrong, defamation and electoral rules apply online as much as they do offline. What’s more, the Internet magnifies errors and dishonesty. Even if you haven’t strictly broken the rules, you still may find an ethical lapse could sink your campaign.
The difference when you do it online is that the record is permanent and available world wide, that’s why it’s called the World Wide Web.
5. The net makes copying easy
In a digital world, all content is endlessly reproducible, so your material can be copied, altered and distributed easily. This was a lesson learned by a few London lawyers ten years ago. Learn from their mistakes and use it to your advantage.
6. Nothing is off the record
Everything you write on the Internet is on the record; an offhand Twitter comment is just as official as a press conference or media release. So keep the smart comments off line. If you’re going to be rude about someone, don’t put it in writing on the net even if the message is supposed to be private.
7. Online private and public domains are blurred
While there are private channels on the Internet, the boundaries between them are not always clear. For instance a Facebook group can be seen by anyone who is a member, so postings in that group can be passed on from there.
It’s also easy to make mistakes; a private Twitter message could go public if you hit the wrong key. There’s no shortage of horror stories where people have been included on email messages that were never intended for them.
8. Be transparent and consistent
As a research tool, the Internet gives media, the voters and your opponents the opportunity to quickly verify every statement you make. If you are going say the pound collapsed when your opponents were in government, check this really did happen. If your party promises a can of baked beans in every household then details of The National Baked Bean Access Program have to be online.
9. The Internet loves a vacuum
Should you leave questions unanswered, or if you make an empty promise with no supporting information, then you’ll find no shortage of people on the net willing to fill the blanks for you. Leaving people guessing is the quickest way to get an issue spinning out of control.
10. Be careful of delegating
It’s tempting to give the job of social media expert to the youngest staffer or volunteer in the office, however you are responsible for everything written. So if you delegate, think carefully. Blaming an over enthusiastic intern or contractor is rarely a good look even if it is true.
A good example of this was Hugh Jackman’s Sydney Opera Center gaffe which was clearly a Tweet from someone who wasn’t Australian. While for Hugh it was a minor embarrassment, a similar mistake could derail a political campaign or career.
11. Think before you tweet
The best measure for posting on the internet is never to say anything you’d be embarrassed to explain to your mother. In a political context, don’t say anything you’d be uncomfortable justifying to your party leader, whip or the host of a radio talk back program.
12. Engage with your audience
You need to be adding value, while mediums like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are quite effective for getting out prepared material, that isn’t using those channels to their full potential. The word “social” in “social media” indicates how they have become communities where people exchange views and participate. Your Facebook pages and Twitter streams should be engaging voters and acting as a rallying point for supporters. Think of them as a virtual 24/7 town hall meeting.
13. The net is a big playground
The Internet is a perfect democracy. Everyone who chooses to participate has a voice.
This means the informed, engaged and intelligent have an equal voice with the ignorant, deranged and obsessed. While it is important to listen to what the lunatic fringe have to say, you don’t have to engage with them.
14. You are judged by your company
Be careful of joining online groups or being too closely associated with individuals who may be an embarrassment. Facebook is particularly bad for this as you’ll get many offers to join groups. Resist most of the invitations as even the funny ones could backfire.
15. Play nice
On the net, you should never get into a fight. The classic Dilbert cartoon strip once said “don’t argue with an idiot, they just drag you down to their level where they beat you with their logic.”
The Internet is the greatest invention for idiots, giving them a forum to exercise their ideas and find like minded fools. Don’t join, argue or engage with them, you’ll only encourage them.
16. Don’t get clever
One thing the Internet doesn’t do very well is humour, sarcasm and irony. So be very careful with the smart comments as what would be a funny off-hand line at a press conference or walk around could be totally misinterpreted online.
Another problem is context which is easily lost on the net; be careful with statements that could be taken poorly by those not aware of the surrounding circumstances. This is particularly true with Twitter where it can be difficult for bystanders to understand the entire online exchange.
17. The web is worldwide
There’s no such thing as an intimate chat online. Everything you do could be passed on. You may only have a thousand Facebook friends or Twitter followers but if each of them has a similar following, that’s an immediate audience of a million people. Treat each tweet, post or update as if it is going out on the Morning Show or 7.30 report.
Similarly, some political organisers think the web is best for rallying the troops. That’s a dangerous idea as many teenagers have discovered when a horde of gatecrashers have turned up to their Facebook advertised parties. Your political opponents are probably taking as much interest in your posts as your supporters.
18. Don’t deceive
The New Yorker once said “on the Internet no-one knows you’re a dog”. So it’s tempting to set up anonymous accounts and webpages to discredit your opponent or derail their campaigns.
In reality, your posts in dog food forums will probably give you away and all but the most sophisticated hoaxer will leave clues in their digital footprint. Even if you cover your tracks, being mischievous can bring you unstuck.
You need to also keep your volunteers and staff aware of this; by all means let them engage, promote and defend your positions but make it clear that underhand and childish stunts will hurt more than help.
The digital natives will tell you old media is dying and only the Internet matters while older journos will mutter darkly into their beers about the net being a passing fad. Both are wrong.
Mainstream media and the Internet increasingly rely on each other as sources and distribution channels. Tools like Twitter help journalists find sources and spread stories while the news papers and TV shows provide material for Twitter and Facebook users.
Where the Internet works particularly well is enhancing the “traditional’ channels of community meetings, media appearances, fliers and articles. What you can’t say in a 15 second TV ad or 500 word article can be expanded on and enhanced online because you aren’t subject to other peoples’ restrictions and guidelines.
20. Experiment and learn
In a risk adverse world it’s easy to ask why you should bother with the Internet as most voters are still getting their information through mass media and advertising spending is still largely used for broadcast ads.
The reason you need to be on the Internet is because your constituency is moving online and the broadcast journalists are online. You need to be listening to them and to understand how issues are developing and how these channels are being used.
As these tools develop, they are going to become more powerful. The politician who ignores them today and misunderstands how the medium works could find themselves being remembered in the same way Richard Nixon was in 1960.
Our society is increasingly using the Internet to debate and develop new ideas. If you hope to be part of those ideas, you need to be part of the debate.
You can read more about Paul Wallbank at http://paulwallbank.com/
Many of you reading this post will have watched some of the World Cup from the comfort of your own home or with friends in a local bar, but many of us sometimes forget the townships which surround Cape Town and the challenges they face.
Valerio Veo takes us ‘Behind the Scenes’ with his Flip camera into Mfuleni, a relatively new township about 40 kilometres from Cape Town, South Africa.
With a population of around 7000 people and with unemployment, HIV/AIDS and crime being some of their most pressing problems this poor township face, the spirit of the World Cup is helping uplift this community. However, mobile technology is allowing journalists like Valerio to get a real insight into how South Africans watch the ‘Bafana Bafana‘ play.
Duration: 4mins 43sec
Valerio Veo, Head of SBS News and Current Affairs Online in Australia and avid football fan is spending 6 weeks in football heaven at the World Cup in South Africa. With a backpack full of kit that would make your credit card weep at excess baggage, he is taking a bird’s eye view of life in and around the games in Cape Town for media140. Over the next 6 weeks you can follow his exploits on the media140 blog as he provides some exclusive insight into the World Cup.