Government relations expert Drexel Heard II offers five tips for navigating politics on social media profiles.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 2022 — Communications and political expert Drexel Heard II knows a thing or two about managing social media for candidates, brands, and himself.
Before starting with politics in a significant way on personal profiles, it’s best to sit down and do an audit looking at primary goals and any stumbling blocks. This makes it easier to be effective with messaging and managing potential issues down the road.
Focus on the Main Goal: The People
Drexel Heard II is a master of government relations and managing PR at a high level, but that isn’t everyone’s goal when getting political on social media. For some, it is an opportunity to voice opinions on specific issues and casually endorses candidates. For others, it is a passion with the goal of creating change, pushing through policy goals, and ensuring their candidates are elected. Ultimately, anyone seeking higher office has to be reminded that they are servants of the people first, and that’s whose voice they represent.
Identify Passionate Issues from the Jump
Managing a profile is different for each type of user. A more casual participant can generally weave back and forth between politics and personal content without raising eyebrows or attracting too much attention. As a profile becomes more political or gains followers, it is more likely to attract both positive and negative attention.
It’s crucial to develop a game plan and procedures for handling rough situations early, such as potential doxxing, account theft, comment moderation, and general trolling elsewhere on the web. This limits the need to make critical decisions from scratch at a stressful time.
Always be Specific
When sharing political points or commenting on hot-button issues, it can be easy to speak casually, and sometimes casual comments can be misinterpreted. The more sensitive a subject is, the more specific messaging should be to avoid leaving gaps followers and critics can fill in independently.
If sharing information promoting a candidate or organization, defer to their precise wording and positions whenever possible and attribute accordingly.
Remember Comments Matter
Drexel Heard II advises that allowing a comments section to run wild without a filter can create negative space on an otherwise informational, well-curated feed. Comment moderation policies should be set and enforced to protect those engaging in the space adequately. When possible, engage with followers in the comments to promote discourse.
Authenticity is Expected
Some political accounts are information only, but when an account is personal and political, followers do expect authenticity. Avoid promoting causes on behalf of others when they are not personal beliefs or sharing information that contradicts previously shared opinions without updating why the change of heart has occurred.
If political endorsements or other content is being provided in a paid capacity, this always needs to be disclosed for both legal and ethical reasons. The Federal Trade Commission requires simple and clear disclosure of paid advertisements or posts, so consider immediate and frequent sharing of #ad tags and other identifying languages to avoid unnecessary complications.