When I was working at Media Two I met a young woman who was doing her internship with the social media team. When I met Anna Beavon Gravely she was the president of the student body at Meredith College with just a couple months before her graduation. She was smart, funny, passionate and some might even say intense. She was an unabashed conservative with a goal to someday be the person standing behind the podium giving the White House press briefings.
I checked in with her yesterday to find out which GOP presidential campaign had hired her. Surprisingly, she told me that she has set her sites on working with some of the North Carolina candidates running for statewide office. While she was an intern she had mentioned how much she wanted to help Pat McCrory become governor by helping out in the communication office. Yesterday she said that she was talking with Dan Forest who is running for Lt. Governor. She’s excited to help Dan because she’s sure he has the right ideas to help North Carolina.
That’s where this case study starts.
When I put his name into Google, he doesn’t show up, in fact it thinks the query is incorrect and asks if I meant it with 2 r’s in his last name . One of the results was for LinkedIn (there are 7 Dan Forest’s). I finally find his LinkedIn profile and it’s terrible. No optimization at all has been done to position him as someone you would vote for.
I understand that running for Lt. Governor of North Carolina isn’t the same as running for president, but having your social media strategy figured out should be considered basic blocking and tackling.
I find Dan Forest’s Twitter account and although his stream is a bit light, I decide to follow him. A little while later I get a DM from his acount asking me to validate myself through TrueTwit. I wouldn’t recommend anyone use a service like that because it creates one more hurdle for me to jump before you will decide if I’m worth connecting with. For someone looking to connect with as many people as he can this is a epic fail.
Smartly he links to his website in his Twitter bio, but then his website isn’t live yet. This is another terrible idea. Why would you send me to a site where I again can’t connect with you? From a search perspective, the non-branded “coming soon” page is basically an ad for the company that will be producing the website – so then when it does finally go live the search engines will be confused because it used to be about another company and now it’s about Dan Forrest. There’s no “noindex” tag to keep the search spiders away until launch.
His Facebook page looks like it was given at least some amount of thought because it’s filled in. The actual conversation going on there is weak again though. Not surprisingly when you land at Dan’s Facebook page the first thing you see is an invitation to “GIVE NOW”. Gee, thanks – it’s nice to meet you too.
So how is it that a smart guy running for statewide office can seem so clueless about social media?
Dan Forest is about my age and our demographic is on the edge. We either grabbed onto technology in our 20’s and though it was awesome or just used it for work and that was about it. The problem is, if Dan doesn’t figure out social media quickly he can start to look like someone who is out of touch. Nobody running for statewide office wants that label.
Politicians have long understood the need for a communications director, but what about a digital communications director as well? The person who knows the ropes of traditional media is not very likely to also be a cutting edge digital operator.
So what’s a guy in his position to do? He needs to look at hiring someone who gets the social space and the importance of streamlining a message, building a network, listening more, optimizing content so that he and his ideas are easily found and engaging in some level of online reputation management.
Remember the young woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post? I would recommend that Dan hire here asap as his digital Communications Director so she can save his online campaign. She’s been thinking about this stuff longer than he has.
How is your favorite candidate doing from a social media perspective?
UPDATE: Dan followed me back today, 11 days after he made me jump through hoops to follow him. In those 11 days he retweeted one item where ethand (from Pennsylvania) mentioned that he had just met him.