How To Use Twitter For Your Political Campaign With Only 20 Minutes A Day

Recently I was chatting with a client who was frustrated with social networking because they felt it was too time consuming.  Well…I’ve got good news, and bad news. 
The bad news is every political campaign suffers from time constraints, and limited resources.
The good news is it doesn’t require a huge time investment to be effective on Twitter.  This post will teach you the top things you should do if you only have 20 minutes a day for Twitter.

7 Minutes: Content 

A key aspect to any successful Twitter account is engagement.  Engagement is when you share something on Twitter and someone favorites, mentions, or retweets your post.
A big factor in whether or not your tweet gets engagement is based upon the content of your tweet.
Here are the steps I use for managing my content on Twitter.
Step 1: Identify
Quality content for your campaign is going to be largely based on your platform.  What issues is your campaign focusing on?  
Every time you share content on Twitter your tweet is going to be tracked by search engines like Google.  This means that your post will forever be tied to your name
This will impact where you appear in search results, and what you appear in search results for.
With so many voters using the internet and social networks…your online activity can quickly spill over into your offline activities.
This makes it really important for you to make sure that your campaign message is consistent in both the offline and online world.
Identify the issues you plan on focusing on in your campaign, and be sure to share content around those issues on Twitter.
Step 2: Find Content
When people first start to use Twitter generally they only share content about themselves.  This is a terrible strategy because it makes you come off as egocentric.  
Generally you should adopt a 80/20 rule where 80% of your content is from other people, and only 20% of it is campaign specific.
Finding the 80% of content from other people is a universal frustration for most social network users, but it doesn’t have to be.  
Locate 5 news sources that consistently produce great content.  Once you find these news sources bookmark them.
Here are some sources I use:
This is’s real-time story search.  The way it works is you can type anything into the search engine, and it will pull up the most viral articles being clicked on regarding your search query.  
I usually use this source first because it’s articles are sometimes timely in nature. 
This is a great source for finding political content.  It also has a left, right, and ideas segment under the “opinion” section which might serve as a nice place to find political fodder.  
Most people don’t use their news feed on Facebook properly.  On Facebook you have the ability to “hide” people’s posts indefinitely.  
How to hide all of someone’s posts on Facebook.
What this means for news is you can hide people who are sharing articles that you’re not interested in without offending them by “de-friending” them.  
Once you hide enough people you’ll find your news feed producing incredible content. 
You can also use Facebook as your political page.  If you do this you can go out and “like” other politician’s pages.  
When you like their pages their content will show up on your news feed.  
This could be a great strategy for creating digital relationships with other campaigns on Facebook. 
Digg is an fantastic source for finding great content.  Just search for whatever you’re interested in, and Digg will show you articles that are popular.  Sharing popular articles will get you more engagement.
This is a great source for finding issue specific news.  Simply type in an issue, and Alltop will produce multiple news articles.  
This source isn’t as good at finding viral news articles like the others, but it is exceptional at helping you find unique articles that people have probably not discovered yet.
Beyond using news sources, another effective strategy at finding good content is following influencers on Twitter.  
Simply identify 10 to 20 individuals who share content aligned with your campaign platform, and add them to a Twitter list.  If you don’t know what a Twitter list is then read this article.
When you want to find good content open up your Twitter list and start reading.
Every three days I’ll look for quality content.  Using these news sources it takes me 10 minutes to find 15 articles.  
After finding these articles I’ll spend 12 minutes reading and scheduling the top 10 articles.  Usually 5 of the 15 aren’t “share worthy”.  That’s why it’s important to read every article you plan on sharing.  
Step 3: Schedule Content
Manually publishing content is extremely time consuming.  The fastest way to share content on Twitter is to schedule it.
The first part of scheduling is the actual construction of your tweet.  A lot of people just copy and paste the headline of the article they are sharing, but this method tends to come off as impersonal.
Instead of regurgitating headlines you should read the entire article, and make a meaningful comment without losing the informative nature of the headline.
An alternative option is to take a quote from the article, and publish it as your tweet.
Another trick I sometimes use is to post the headline in the first sentence, and then make a comment in the second sentence. 
Whatever method(s) you choose to incorporate remember to never use up all of your characters in your tweet.  If you do then their won’t be enough room for people to mention or retweet you.  This will reduce your engagement.
The second part of scheduling is optimizing your content.  This means mentioning influencers, and using the proper hashtags.
It is important to always use hashtags.  Using hashtags allows you to make your tweet more viral because it will store your tweet under the hashtags you choose to use.  
This means when someone searches for content on Twitter around that hashtag there is a chance they will stumble across your tweet.
Use hashtags…they will get you engagement.
Mentioning influencers is also incredibly powerful because if they engage with you then their followers will likely see it.
Don’t mention influencers too often though, or you may come off as spammy.
After you have optimized your post you’ll need to schedule it.  
Luckily there are a ton of options out there for scheduling like Hootsuite, CoTweet, TweetDeck, and Twuffer.
Twice a week I’ll sit down and schedule content.  Usually I’ll schedule 2 – 5 tweets per day.  If you average the time out it generally takes about 7 minutes per day to find and schedule content.  
Is it worth it?  My 7 minute daily investment on my personal account translates into ~14,000 impressions.  As a public figure yours will likely be even higher.  So yeah…it’s worth it.

3 Minutes: Grow

Sharing great content doesn’t ensure engagement.  Engagement is a function of great content combined with having a network of people following your Twitter account.
How powerful can a network be?  In a previous post we demonstrated that having 5 people share your post on Facebook could result in potentially getting your message in front of ~16,000 people.  That’s really powerful.
Growing your Twitter account is actually the easiest daily step you’ll take.  
We’ve found that if you follow people on Twitter there is a 15% chance or higher that they’ll follow you back.  Some of our clients have even seen a followback rate as high as 80%.
Doing this manually will involve you going to Twitter and searching for people to follow.  This can take an enormous amount of time.
If you want to do this step in less than 3 minutes everyday then you should use PoliticIt Campaign’s Grow Tool.  It allows you to mass follow your competitors followers, locate and connect with voters and donors, or follow people that are saying specific things on Twitter like “I support immigration”.  
Using The Grow tool literally takes me 1 to 3 minutes everyday, and it results in roughly 20 to 60 new followers every time I use it.  
The best part is I’ve been able to target specific interests with the tool so every new follower is actually interested in the content I’m sharing on Twitter which translates into more engagement for me.

10 Minutes: Relationships

Amateur Twitter users will only invest in producing quality content, and growing their networks.  Professional Twitter users will work on relationship building.
When you spend time building relationships with your followers you will see an enormous increase in engagement.  I promise.
How do you build relationships?  Here are a few quick tips:
  • Reply to people who retweet you.  This is simple.  Just follow them, read their bio, and provide a thoughtful comment
  • Say hello to new followers.  All you have to do is read their bio, and send them a direct message.  We provide an example of this in one our our past posts “10 SEO Tricks Every Political Campaign Should Know About
  • Answer a question someone asked in your Twitter stream
  • Browse your Twitter stream, and retweet content from the people you’re following
  • Browse your Twitter stream, and jump into conversations people are having
I generally focus on the relationship part of this routine at the end of the day.  For me…the two most important tips are engaging with those that have engaged with me, and the greeting of new followers.  I would recommend doing those tips before engaging in the others.
Your followers will really appreciate the personal touch you give them by implementing this step, and that appreciation will convert to votes on election day.

Track Results

As you begin to implement this routine be sure to pay attention to your content that is getting the most engagement.  When a specific issue gets a lot of traction then focus on producing more content that is similar. 
Be sure to also track your It Score.  Implementing this routine will have a positive impact on your It Score.
So remember…being effective on Twitter for your political campaign only requires less than 20 minutes per day.  
Find and share great content, grow your network, focus on relationship building, and track your results.
What do you think of this strategy?  How do you spend your time on Twitter?
(Photo Credit: Flickr via Andreas Eldh)

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