Yuri Gankin

Nowadays, almost every public official elected to serve as a Member of Parliament or appointed a Member of Cabinet, is ought to use a Social Media Account allowing him to engage and establish some kind of contact with his supporters – and foes.  However, merely opening a Facebook or a Twitter account is simply not enough. You either do it right, or you don’t do it at all until you just hire professional consultants to do it for you. In a time when social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives, there is no room for error.

There are some basic Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to the use of Social Media by an elected official: For example, blocking users that have criticized one’s policy on his/her fan page (unless they have used inappropriate language) would be disastrous since it will probably backfire when picked up by a reporter or simply via a status gone viral.

The same goes to leaving a discussion when you disagree with your opponents’ opinion. Both mistakes, for example, were made by Israeli Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, just weeks after he announced his decision to run for public office.  Shortly after those incidents took place, he decided to hire a professional SMM (Social Media Management) team – which turned out to be a wise decision. The most important thing here was his ability to acknowledge his mistakes and change course in time.

Social Media in Politics

On the other hand, for example, Israeli Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennett, managed to put the power of Social Media to his own political use when he posted an unedited version of an online publication harshly criticizing him on his Facebook Fan Page – and added his own commentary, Some might consider this an ill-advised tactic because he could have just commented on the text without posting it “as is”, providing his opponents with some extra free publicity they certainly didn’t expect.

The thing is that Social Media changed the way we think; classic marketing commandments such as “never mention the name of your opponent or a competing brand” are no longer relevant when it comes to contemporary Social Media. Bennett’s decision to post the entire thing proved to be correct – gaining more than 7500 Likes and 1200 Shares. And by the way, he did the same thing twice.

This upcoming Saturday I will discuss all of the above mentioned case studies and many more in my lecture titled “From Facebook to the Ballot – Politics in the Social Media Era.” The lecture, followed by an Q&A session will be held in a Pub (yeah it’s that cool) called “MASH Central” located on Allenby 38 Street in Tel-Aviv; The entrance fee is 30 NIS. If you are reading this post and happen to be in Tel-Aviv tomorrow – please feel free to come over and join the discussion.

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Yuri is a political and mew media advisor. Yuri’s blog