What publishers can learn about Twitter from Cory Booker
Newark Mayor Cory Booker's innovative use of Twitter in the aftermath of last week's snowpocalypse has made him something of a social media hero. "Booker's frantic Twitter feed reads like an action novel," enthused Sean Gregory of Time. Publishers can learn a lot from Booker's effective use of social media.
Machiavelli reminded readers hundreds of years ago that fortune favors the bold, and Booker clearly internalized that principle in the face of a crisis. Publishers, however, shouldn't wait until conditions are at zero visibility to have an aggressive Twitter strategy. By then it is usually too late. Here are five things that publishers can take away from Booker's agile digital performance:
Authority will be judged by social media
Public officials -- particularly mayors, because of their daily municipal responsibilities to the public -- will now be under greater public scrutiny on social media. Publishers -- particularly hyperlocals -- would do well to hold themselves to similar levels of scrutiny else it will be done for you. Also, paying attention to what is being said about your organization on social media avoids nasty surprises.
Beyond public officials and publishers, all authorities will be called into account to some degree over their decisions in the digital age. Publishers particularly fall into the category of "authority" because it is essentially a position of trust.
Compare the performance of Booker -- who, incidentally now has 1.06 million followers -- to that of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (41,370 followers), the founder, incidentally, of a little media company called Bloomberg LLC. Bloomberg's tweets, though improving lately (Booker's help?), are sterile and bloodless compared to those of Booker. The mayor of Newark engages Twitter aggressively while the Mayor of New York issues press releases in 140 or less characters.
Lesson: Publishers should be on top of their Twitter presence, not playing catch-up when it is too late.
There are few rewards as simple and as valued as the RT. Retweets are the social media equivalent of "shout outs" on the radio. They are currency -- use them wisely. Retweeting someone's Twitter handle also puts your organization in front of all their followers while simultaneously strengthening their relationship with your brand.
Retweets can also be used as rewards. Publishers might want to ask themselves: could TruthSquad's approach to crowdsourced fact checking be done on Twitter? Might readers be enticed to guard the integrity of a publication's information for a Retweet, for a shout out? That's the type of thinking that builds community. It is also exactly what Cory Booker has done since the day after snowpocalypse.
Honesty is obviously the best response in the face of any kind of error, editorial or otherwise. Bloomberg's initial response to the blizzard was to go into serious old-school PR mode and deny that the problem exists. Bad move. The many voices on social media overwhelm even the most well-crafted spin. The days when a mayor -- or any "authority," for that matter -- could present a case crafted to their advantage unchalleneged in a news cycle are over.
The ensuing public outcry at Bloomberg's initial denial led, predictably, to a public flip-flop. He found himslef untimately admitting errors. Booker, by contrast, led by his actions; he never spun, he did. That's self-explanatory.