Social media outlets have provided political figures and affiliated partisan organizations with efficient resources for delivering relevant and oftentimes controversial messages to an always receptive public. The posts, if left in tact, provide a useful historic policy and opinion thread, which could work either to the benefit or detriment of the poster in terms of potential corporate allies and contributors.
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The days of political and social policy ambiguity are largely over for corporations. Every brand must have an identity, and a brand identity isn’t complete without at least a hint of social perspective. However, if a corporate entity chooses to affiliate itself with a particular political figure, piece of legislation, political party or ideology, it would be well advised to investigate that political or social body’s history of public proclamations first. Now that we have Twitter and Facebook, there are countless messages that can be harvested in order to gauge a public servant’s and/or think tank’s views as public sentiment shifts and time progresses. A reputable Issues Management and Legislative Monitoring firm will be able to dig up dirt easily, if it exists.
“I predict that underestimating the impact of social media on state government relations is going to be the downfall of many,” says Constance Campanella, President and CEO of Stateside Associates, a local and state governmental affairs consultancy. “The speed, the penetration, the ability to screw up on a grand scale, instantly, is going to take some time to adjust to. But, adjust we must.”
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While it may be possible to delete regrettable Twitter posts immediately, thanks to the website Politwoops, this isn’t entirely an option for politicians. Even though the post might have been officially removed from Twitter, the eagle-eyed administrators at Politwoops nonetheless manage to resurrect it and post it on their website for the world to scrutinize, sometimes years later – even if the post was up no longer than a few seconds.
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Proactive social media monitoring on the part of state and local officials is imperative – there may be no escaping the reverberation of old, unfortunate posts. Says Stateside Associates President Constance Campanella, “In the olden days – pre-2013 – Marketing and Communications folks kept tabs on social media. But, this is now a job for government relations since the legislators themselves are doing the tweeting and posting.”