I had dinner last night with a publicly elected official from a large American city. I was impressed with his understanding of Social Media, and he had already created and implemented a strategy to utilize Facebook for political purposes. But what about LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is still seen as being a boring, static medium when compared, as it often is, to Twitter and Facebook. This is because LinkedIn is pretty much a closed world, with only a few LinkedIn applications available that you can use to make your profile more interactive. What a lot of people are missing is the interactivity that goes on between users in Groups, Answers, and through connecting and communicating with your connections.
So what about LinkedIn for politicians? Should every politician be on LinkedIn? Absolutely! And I am not talking about the profiles thrown up by President Obama and the other presidential candidates. If you are running on a platform, if you believe in certain principles strongly, if you want to have certain values associated with you…these are all exercises in branding on LinkedIn, the same as for a small business owner or an executive in transition.
What is my specific advice for politicians, then?
- Brand your profile. No, this should not be a boring old biography of you. It should stand what you stand for and should advertise your platform, assuming you have one. Why beat around the bush when you can directly communicate with almost 40 million professionals?
- Join Groups that you want to be aligned with. If, for instance, there is a solar energy group and that is what you are campaigning for, why not join this type of group and contribute? In fact, you can have your political staff trolling the Discussion Boards and News Articles looking for new ideas and generating opinions that may help further enhance your political views. And if the Group that you want to join doesn’t exist, even the better! Start your own! And in doing so you could very well be starting an international movement!
- Connect and make allies with industry, educational, and political leaders that you want to be associated with. As in real life, networking is important in politics. If you are in a particular position in government, isn’t there a natural affinity to be connected and exchange best practices with similar public officers throughout the country if not the world? Furthermore, there is always necessary collaboration between the public office and businesses and education, so why not utilize LinkedIn to create a virtual network of potential people that could be major allies in your future?
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just some ideas for public officials to be thinking of how they can better utilize social media for their unique means. Looking foward to hearing your opinions on the above.