Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to use social media for virtual campaigning yet avoiding the spam trap

There is currently a campaign in the UK to elect a new president for the Royal College of Midwives. I have been advising Professor Lesley Page how best to use social media to get her message across. Midwives in the UK are notoriously reluctant to vote in RCM elections, so at the very least Lesley wishes to raise awareness about the elections, with the ultimate aim that they vote for her.

One of the things that has become obvious is there is a fine line between maximising opportunities for getting your message out to people and spamming. For example, one of the other candidates wrote a "vote for me" post in a Facebook group that I am a member of which focuses on the ethical advertising and marketing of formula baby food. Personally, I thought this was annoying spam because the post had nothing to do with the topic of the group or relevance to certain members of the group. So how do you get around this problem?

One answer I think is to integrate your message with the focus of the group, network or page so that there is a win-win situation....that you get your message across but you also contribute constructively to the group or conversation. In the case I was talking about, the candidate could have told the group how she feels about ethical marketing of formula feed and what she would do about it if she becomes president. Or she could actively request feedback from the group about the issue to inform her own position.

What do you think? Do you mind if people use your Facebook page (Twitter tag, email discussion group...) to advertise their election/information campaign? Do you have ideas about what is acceptable or not? What sort of campaigns do you share with others on Facebook and Twitter and what would you ignore? What guidelines would you suggest for virtual campaigning using social media?

Image: 'polling station'

1 comment:

Sheena said...

Hi Sarah,

If you are referring to me, then I have to say I feel slightly offended by your suggestion that my post was 'spam'. But perhaps (and I hope) you were not, and I am mistaken.

Best wishes, Sheena