Whether you plan on running for office or are already in office, social media plays a major role in political success in the digital era. A strong political digital brand can differentiate you from your opponents, increase campaign awareness, attract more campaign donors, and foster a connection with constituents.
By leveraging hashtags on social media, you can define your identity as a public official, engage with the people you represent, and build a positive reputation. Follow these steps to use public official hashtags to build your brand.
How To Use Public Official Hashtags For Your Civil Service Brand?
Why Hashtags Matter for Public Officials
Now more than ever, public officials are using social media to find and engage in relevant discussions about political issues. Why? Because chances are, social media is more populated than your local city hall.
No single town hall meeting, debate, or press conference is as important to your campaign as your digital brand. Many of your constituents and voters will encounter your digital brand first. Consider your digital brand the frontline of your campaign efforts.
SEE ALSO: How To Brand Yourself As A Politician
As a civil servant or politician, you can benefit from using social networking sites to build your reputation and reach old and new constituents.
Hashtags are the key to increasing awareness of your campaign or causes and quickly building relationships with the people who matter.
Define Your Identity as a Public Official
First and foremost, hashtags are useful to public officials because they help to establish who you are and what you stand for.
Activism has gone digital and people use hashtags to speak out about what matters to them. Identify and leverage hashtags to align yourself with important causes. For example, in 2016, then POTUS Barack Obama used the hashtag #LoveIsLove to voice support for marriage equality.
For example, in 2016, then POTUS Barack Obama used the hashtag #LoveIsLove to voice support for marriage equality.
Public officials can also use hashtags to promote their slogans or draw attention to the work they are doing. New Jersey Governor, Governor Christie uses the hashtag #betterthanwefoundit to highlight the strides he took improve the condition of the state during his term.
Increase Your Visibility with Hashtags
Public official hashtags also allow you to increase your visibility on social media and reach more of the people you serve. Increase your visibility by using hashtags to the conversation.
At any given time there are a variety of trending discussions that have gained popularity. Join conversations by using hashtags that are relevant and appropriate. This will allow you to reach a larger audience.
One strategy worth employing is using hashtags that correspond with a major current event or phenomenon. Mayor Garcetti leveraged the buzz about a solar eclipse. Use trending hashtags that make sense for your political brand to grow your exposure and build relationships.
Build Credibility with Hashtags
According to the Pew Research Center, 35% of registered voters believe candidates are more transparent on social media; especially when compared to traditional forms of media. Essentially, a public official’s willingness to use social networks is thought to be a measure of their trustworthiness. As opposed to discreetly chosen soundbites and speeches, social media appears more candid; an open dialogue between civilians and politicians.
By joining relevant discussions, public officials can build their credibility among and connect with voters.
Use popular hashtags to connect yourself with relevant discussions in your local and national communities. Mayor Lee of San Francisco leveraged a hashtag popular among parents and educators, #backtoschool.
Best Practices for Using Public Official Hashtags
At the bare minimum, regardless of the social network, public officials should always engage with others in a respectful manner. Whether you are conducting an interview in person or engaging with a fellow politician on Facebook, you should take care to present your ideas boldly and assertively, but without sacrificing decency or insulting the dignity of others.
In addition, keep in mind that social media is not a buffer between your private and professional life. Rather, it is a mirror that will reflect whichever side you disclose.
Use it wisely.
Tools For Identifying Hashtags
There are quite a few online resources for finding the best hashtags.
RiteTag is at the top of the list.
RiteTag works by finding the most popular Twitter hashtags related to the selected tag you search for.
In our example above, we searched for “politics” (you can search with or without the # sign).
Our results were divided into three categories;
- Very active – Use these to get seen now (green)
- Somewhat active – Use these to get seen over time (blue)
- Not active – These hashtags are not currently active (gray). In other words, there are more valuable ways to use your Twitter character limit real estate.
It is a good practice to use a mixture of both very active and somewhat active public official hashtags. This is because the very active hashtags are often so popular that it’s easy to get lost in a sea of other posts when you use them.
‘Somewhat active’ hashtags, on the other hand, have just enough engagement. By using the ‘somewhat active’ hashtags that aren’t entirely flooded, you will be seen over time and are less likely to get lost in the noise.
Try using both very active and somewhat active hashtags and compare the response.
In general, many brands opt to use 1-3 hashtags per post on twitter. So you can experiment with any combination of very active and somewhat active hashtags.
Other online resources for finding popular hashtags include:
Generic Hashtags For Public Officials
General hashtags, like #news, #law and #government have the widest circulation on social media. But remember that the more densely populated a hashtag is, the easier it is to fall into the black hole of content unseen and unheard. So it is best to use sites like RiteTag to find a combination of very active and somewhat active hashtags to use in your campaign.
Twitter + Instagram
- #[State Or Country Name]
Remember to pay close attention to current events too; as trending headlines usually get their own hashtags. For example, The New York Time’s article The Top Political Tweets and Hashtags of 2016 outlined the most influential political discussions on social media in 2016.
In short, by tapping into top news stories as they trend you can increase awareness of your civil service brand.
Public official hashtags are an essential part of building your political digital brand. They help you build a name for yourself and the policies you stand for. So use them to go beyond your professional circle and reach important segments of the population that might not have access to your content otherwise.
What are the best types of hashtags to use to build awareness as a politician? What other strategies do you recommend for relationship building?