Guest Blog: 7 Things Politicians are Doing Wrong on Twitter

They’ve finally all given in. It took a few years, but every single member of Congress now has a Twitter account.

Just claiming a spot on social media, however, doesn’t mean you've won the battle. Many members of Congress — and politicians across the spectrum — believe if they (or staffers) fill their feed a few times a week, they’re #winning. That couldn't be further from the truth.

imagesHere are 7 things politicians are doing wrong on Twitter:

1. Writing in Code. It’s great that you voted on H.R. 2768, but not much use if no one knows what that bill does. Explain the vote in layman’s terms. Did you vote for a bill that grants more privacy to American citizens, or better protects cherished freedoms? Tell your audience that, and then tell them why it matters – in 140 characters or less. If you can’t say it all in one tweet, get crazy and write two of them.

2. All Business, All the Time. Being a politician is serious business, right? Yes, but there’s some wiggle room. Being a politician gives you the opportunity to be beloved by your constituents and followers. The best way to win people over? Showing them your personality, engaging with them on multiple levels, and endearing them to your spirit. By tweeting about things outside of politics, you show your followers you are a real person with a real life. Tweeting support for your favorite sports team is usually a great way to get started here.

3. Generic Photo Ops. The local Boy Scouts came to visit your office and you took a photo with them. You attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the local library and got a snapshot. That’s great — now enhance those photo ops on Twitter. Instead of a boring sentence describing the scene, find the social media handles of the Boy Scouts and the library, tag the city handle, and throw in a fun hashtag. Make the tweet personal to the people in the photo. Don't just say where you are and whom you’re with, tell your followers why it mattered to you to be there.

4. Useless Links. The PDF of a bill does tell followers what’s going on — but if I know Twitter users, they aren’t going to flip through a 120-page PDF file. Pro-tip? Don’t ever link to bills. Pull out a few points you think are the most important and highlight those in text, and link to a relevant op/ed that makes the points more understandable. You can also create a short video that posts directly to Twitter so people can listen to your opinion. But ... keep the video to 20 seconds or less.

5. Ignoring the Public. Most politicians are not regularly reading and responding to the folks that are tweeting at them. Bad move. Because people view Twitter as a real, live line directly to you, it’s important that you follow up on these tweets. Not everyone will deserve a response but legitimate questions, concerns, and compliments DO! People are tickled to death when someone of note responds to their tweet. You will make their day, and make yourself look a whole lot more savvy in the social media world.

6. Rapid Response. Twitter is the best place to get your message out fast when news is breaking. You definitely don’t want to jump the gun or react without reason, but if you are looking to make news, Twitter is the place to be. Most politicians chime in hours later or the next day – after a tweet has gone through 10 layers of approval. They need a quick approval system that allows for rapid response. The news is breaking on Twitter, the world is watching, and the voices of our leaders should be heard as quickly as possible. It’s important to have a staff member whose judgment you trust to get the message out if you can’t do it yourself in the moment.

7. Link Up. Politicians love publicity, especially publicity they have some control over. So, what's the best way to start getting notice — getting publicity — on Twitter? Making yourself known. Nearly every single thing you tweet about mentions someone or something that has a Twitter account. You need to be finding and linking to those people and things as much as possible, which alerts them to your conversation, so they can then respond or follow back. This, above all, is the most effective way to use Twitter and is a highly recommended best practice.

Now you have a chance to get ahead of the curve and capitalize on what Twitter offers moving forward. We've given you 7 effective ways utilize your Twitter account, including a variety of posts that people will want to read and react to. This will help you turn constituents into followers, fans and, very likely, voters.

If you need more ideas, or a helping hand in getting the tweets rolling, contact us at (855) 329-4327 or here. Our social media specialists are ready to assist.

ericka andersenEricka Anderson is a Social Media Strategist, Marathon Runner, CrossFitter, Blogger, Creator of, creative thinker @Heritage & @DailySignal.



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Ericka Andersen

Ericka Andersen

I'm Ericka -- runner, CrossFitter, social media lover -- living my life as balanced and joyfully as possible in Washington, DC. I'll never say no to a cupcake and I'm always up for an adventure :)


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