A brand is like a building, and even politicians have to keep theirs up.
In most cases, personal branding is a somewhat flexible endeavor. If you lose patience with someone, or if you make a mistake, most people are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you move on with your life.
Politicians have little room for error. One mistake at the wrong time can sink entire careers in the political realm. How do they establish a brand and, more importantly, maintain it? Here's how successful politician personal brands are built.
Patience is Key
Social media allows us to post right off the top of our heads. For most of us, it's fun and spontaneous. For a politician? It can be dangerous. Being patient and not just posting whatever comes to mind often pays dividends for anyone, and helps build a strong online brand for politicians.
Professionalism at All Times
Politicians may be on their Twitter or Facebook accounts themselves, or a staffer may be monitoring it depending on the rank and the number of constituents. Regardless, whoever is tweeting always stays professional and never gets personal. A politician's digital brand is often defined as much by their mistakes as their successes.
Fact Check, Fact Check, Fact Check
Nobody remembers when a politician gets something right, but if you accidentally post something factually inaccurate, it will get a lot more attention, especially from the opposing party and its media apparatus. Before a politician or his staff posts something that might get them in hot water, they make a few phone calls or look up whether or not it's accurate before posting. No politician ever hurt their online reputation by Googling some facts.
This is what not to do.
Don't Engage The Peanut Gallery
Politicians, more than any other professional, often have everyone from angry members of the public to muckrakers looking to provoke a reaction. A politician with a good online reputation ignores attempts to enrage, remembering the adage that a closed mouth attracts no feet.
Do Engage with Constituents
That said, social media and email do offer a powerful way to have your finger on the pulse of a community, which is especially key for politicians. Being able to get in touch directly with a voter to listen to their concerns both establishes a politician's credentials as a good representative and helps develop the politician's brand as a person, not as some guy with For Office appended to his last name.
Look Closely for Opportunities to Engage with the Community
Often, being able to reach out to the people you represent can be the difference between getting a vote and a potential voter staying home. Although not everything is within the purview of every politician, making an effort to help is something that lingers in the mind of everyone. Engagement is the foundation for any politician's digital brand.
If Foot Winds Up in Mouth, Apologize
Unfortunately, even the best of us slip up occasionally. If a mistake finds its way into a politician's social media feed, a smart politician doesn't try to cover it up. It's likely that any attempt to hide it will be quickly revealed by those taking quick screenshots and reposted anyway. Acknowledging that something happened, and apologizing to those offended, goes much further towards making bad press fade into the background.
Need help managing your politican personal brand? Contact ReputationDefender. Our online reputation managers will teach you strategies that help you always put your best face forward and help you emphasize the positive online. Why leave good brand management to the politicians? Get in touch with ReputationDefender today.