10 Social Media Tips for Politicians

Ian Lurie

Republicans, Democrats, some of you are pretty stupid when it comes to social media.

Exhibit A: Your last name is Weiner—W-E-I-N-E-R— and you send lewd photos via Twitter? Seriously?!

Exhibit B: You reply to a Craigslist ad via e-mail, attaching a picture of your six-pack? (that’s ex-Congressman Christopher Lee, folks, lest we forget)

So, 10 tips to keep yourselves out of trouble:

  1. If you don’t want it found, don’t put it online. You can’t delete it once it gets out. And it will.
  2. Learn how the frakking internet works!!!! How can you represent me when you clearly have zero knowledge of anything internet-related? You Tweet dirty. You answer Craigslist ads. You send nasty e-mails. My 11-year-old son knows better. Maybe if you knew the difference between a browser cookie and a Chips-A-Hoy, you’d stay out of trouble.
  3. Don’t use your Twitter accounts to talk to that ‘special someone’. Uh, maybe no one told you this, but your Twitter account is kinda public. Or maybe they left out the ‘L’. Either way, don’t send pictures of your unmentionables on Twitter. Duh.
  4. Don’t use your Facebook account, either. Facebook has more security holes than… well… than code written by some college kid in a caffeine frenzy.
  5. Don’t e-mail sensitive stuff. Even if you delete it, it’s still out there somewhere, in the recipient’s in box, on a server, backed up, in your temp files, or in the cache of the recipient. For a bunch of bits, data is awfully hard to erase.
  6. Learn to use basic encryption. For legitimate communications, learn to use encryption. If you’re on a Mac, take the 10 minutes required to learn to use GPGMail. Now your e-mail is that much harder to snoop.
  7. Use https:// for Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. If you’re sitting in a coffee shop, or using a public wifi network, make sure you connect to message services using https://, not http. It’s not perfect, but it does make it a lot harder for me to hack your accounts using Firesheep.
  8. Assume everyone’s for sale. We live in a political climate so ugly that Borat rejected a run for the Presidency, saying he couldn’t handle the nastiness. Assume that anyone you send stuff to—particularly near-strangers—will eventually spill the beans in exchange for cash.
  9. Assume someone is watching. The internet is the single greatest asset to any political espionage operation. And trust me, every group, mainstream or fringe, has just such an operation. They’re monitoring everything you do. So do it offline.
  10. Learn to behave like an adult. But maybe that’s too much to ask.

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Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Great post, Ian. I was expecting the entire thing to be about poking fun of Weiner, but there were some great nuggets in there that I wasn’t aware of, like using https:// for the major social nets, and using GPGMail. Thanks! Much appreciated.

  2. Great Post. Also in Germany politicians don’t understand what social media really is. But you pointed it out exactly: “Learn to behave like an adult. But maybe that’s too much to ask.” 🙂

  3. “Maybe if you knew the difference between a browser cookie and a Chips-A-Hoy, you’d stay out of trouble.” Ahahahaha!!
    I laughed so hard at this article – only it was a kind of sad laughter, because it’s all so true.

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