Five tips for brands from #Twitter4Politics

Monday, 20 July 2015

Last week, the @TwitterDC team brought together 200 Washington insiders for our annual #Twitter4Politics event. The key insights that emerged from the event were simple but powerful. They were also applicable well beyond the Beltway for brands who want to build affinity and drive action.


The conversation kicked off with Vincent Harris (@VincentHarris), Chief Digital Strategist for @RandPaul, and Keegan Goudiss (@goudiss), who manages paid advertising for @BernieSanders, trading political best practices on Twitter and more than a few barbs.


Congress members Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) and Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) then shared incisive, often witty perspectives on the power of Twitter to connect them with their constituents.


Read on for their five tips for Twitter advertisers from #Twitter4Politics.

1. Target influencers

Every industry has them: the individuals who share their opinions and sway those of others. They are the people that shape the conversation around products and brands, and ultimately help determine the outcomes of elections. Influencers could be reporters, analysts, celebrities, moms or millennials – and Twitter is the best way to reach them, according to @VincentHarris.


For the @RandPaul campaign, his team specifically creates lists of journalists in early primary states and then uses Twitter Ads to target these influencers anonymously as a “really good cheap, effective way to get a piece of content out there in front of people that you want to see it: journalists who are going to help with their megaphone push a piece of content out further.”


Representative @HurdOnTheHill finds that Twitter is also a powerful way to be an influencer. He turns to Twitter to reach people who may not be his typical supporters “but can be moved on the issues.”


An added benefit to this approach: He has found that Twitter has helped improve his writing, making it more precise and persuasive in 140 characters or less.


2. Respond in real time

In today’s always on environment, voters expect elected officials to respond quickly to breaking news and cultural moments. And in many ways, customers are quickly coming to expect the same of brands.


@VincentHaris believes Twitter actually defines rapid response.


@goudiss agrees saying Twitter’s unique value to advertisers is its real-time nature: “whether it’s during the Women’s World Cup final or a presidential debate, you can target your message to people who are extremely engaged in the moment they are most receptive.” While conversations may be happening on other platforms too, he believes “most people turn to Twitter to comment on something happening right now.”

For Senator @ChrisMurphyCT there is no better medium than Twitter to “very quickly communicate what you think about an issue. You can’t wait an hour or two. The expectation is that you will share your thoughts right now.” He revealed that another advantage to sharing his thoughts in real time is media coverage: he has actually “gotten more headlines with Tweets than with press releases.”


The senator is also a consumer on the other end, using Twitter to get his news from “the people I trust the most.”


3. Show personality

Twitter offers elected officials – and brands alike – a place to share their values and interests, according to @ChrisMurphyCT. It’s revolutionary, he says, because “Twitter helps you break through the stereotype of what people think a politician is.” It’s a way to humanize your brand.


He uses Twitter to show “more personality than you can in a press release or news clips.”


That means letting people get to know him by talking about his kids, interests like the Red Sox and a brief stint as a #Belieber.



Similarly, @HurdOnTheHill shows multiple sides of his personality on Twitter – balancing talk about Texas border security with lighter debates over his pop music favorite.



What’s the response when Congressmen show off the lighter side of their personalities? We saw the answer in the #Twitter4Politics Tweets: people are surprised by the authenticity and like them more.


4. Listen and engage

Platforms like Twitter have fundamentally changed the dynamic between elected officials and voters. It’s given people a very public, real-time platform to express both their support and frustrations. It’s created the same opportunity to connect customers with brands.


@ChrisMurphyCT says the most important thing he thinks voters want is for their representatives to listen to them. They “don’t expect you to agree, but they want to be heard,” he says.



@HurdOnTheHill agrees that “if you’re representing them and you hear them that blows their mind.” He says that while it’s impossible to have a one to one dialogue with everyone, even “the visual of your followers seeing you respond to other people on Twitter, shows them in a powerful way that you are listening.”


5. Test, test and test

Want to know what works on Twitter as an advertiser? According to @goudiss, the key is testing, testing and testing some more. Twitter allows you to do that “much faster than other platforms,” in his opinion.



For his clients, the goal is often focused on optimizing for ROI. But he advises advertisers to analyze the quality of the leads generated on Twitter and not just blindly compare the acquisition costs to email or mail.


@VincentHarris top tip for success is to create content that is unique to the platform and fitting to what people are talking to the moment.


He advocates changing creative on Twitter every few minutes during big moments in a campaign to learn what messages work and which don’t. On Twitter, he says you can simultaneously “shape the narrative and the moment then target trending hashtags with Website Cards to drive lead generation.” By being flexible, candidates and brands alike can learn what their audiences respond to and drive “more Retweets, lower CPL and lower CPV.”

For more insights and the latest on the 2016 election, follow @gov.