The Public Relations BlogMedia & PsychologyPublic Affairs & LobbyingThe Digital-First Politician: 14 Social Media Principles

The Digital-First Politician: 14 Social Media Principles

A playbook for politicians with online aspirations.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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Are you a digit­al-first politician?

In pub­lic rela­tions, polit­ic­al com­mu­nic­a­tion is often referred to as pub­lic affairs. But why haven’t more politi­cians embraced digit­al-first?

The inter­net is where most of our opin­ions are being moul­ded, debated, and spread through­out the vot­ing population. 

Are you keep­ing up with the times?

Here we go:

14 Principles for a Digital-First Politician

1. The Digital-First Politician Speaks Their Truth — Online

Most politi­cians are com­fort­able with speak­ing at stages, sem­inars, and ral­lies. But the digit­al-first politi­cian even uses her smart­phone in the back­seat of a car to speak her heart out—Gary Vaynerchuck-style.

2. The Digital-First Politician Conveys Her Core Message with Authentic Passion

Most politi­cians are com­fort­able turn­ing up the heat when facing an oppon­ent in a debate. But the digit­al-first politi­cian finds it easi­er to con­vey her authen­t­ic pas­sion when com­mu­nic­at­ing her Core Message on social media. 1Silfwer, J. (2020, April 21). The Content Themes PR Strategy: The Power of Focus. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​t​h​e​m​e​s​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/

3. The Digital-First Politician Has a Growing Email List of Her Own

Most politi­cians strive to appear in con­texts where they can reach rel­ev­ant audi­ences. The digit­al-first politi­cian util­ises the sheer power of email com­mu­nic­a­tions.

Affiliate: I use Mailchimp as my default email list manager.

4. The Digital-First Politician is Constantly Battling a Stupid Majority

Most politi­cians seek ways to engage the pub­lic by speak­ing to issues defined by the mass media. But the digit­al-first politi­cian will take her fight dir­ectly to Stupid Majorities via social media. 2Silfwer, J. (2016, August 25). The Stupid Majority PR Strategy: How Underdogs Dominate. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​t​u​p​i​d​-​m​a​j​o​r​i​t​y​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/

5. The Digital-First Politician Cultivates Her Unique Social Media Voice

Most politi­cians use social media as a broad­cast medi­um for gen­er­ic polit­ic­al con­tent. But the digit­al-first politi­cian has real­ised that online fol­low­ers seek unique voices and tonalities.

6. The Digital-First Politician is Plugged into Hidden Arenas to Mobilise Support

Most politi­cians use online com­mu­nic­a­tion to raise aware­ness and seek sup­port for their agenda. But the digit­al-first politi­cian will also use “Hidden Arenas” as a sound­ing board to build sup­port and tweak the mes­saging with the help of smal­ler for­ums and backchan­nels. 3Silfwer, J. (2023, April 7). The Hidden Arena PR Strategy: Mobilise Change Agents. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​h​i​d​d​e​n​-​a​r​e​n​a​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/

7. The Digital-First Politician is Never Afraid to Meet Potential Voters Online

Online trolls be damned. Most politi­cians don’t want the hassle of speak­ing dir­ectly with insig­ni­fic­ant people on social media. But the digit­al-first politi­cian respects the online equi­val­ent of con­nect­ing with ‘reg­u­lar folks’ in the streets, listen­ing to their stor­ies, and shak­ing their hands. 

8. The Digital-First Politician Publishes Original, Helpful, and Actionable Content

Most politi­cians are using the inter­net to broad­cast their mes­sages. But the digit­al-first politi­cian finds mediocre online con­tent dis­respect­ful to her voters, and she provides a steady stream of ori­gin­al, help­ful, and action­able con­tent. 4Silfwer, J. (2021, November 26). Content is Not Marketing — It’s Communications. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​i​s​-​n​o​t​-​m​a​r​k​e​t​i​ng/

9. The Digital-First Politician Nurtures a Personal Brand on Multiple Online Platforms

Most politi­cians think that the choice of chan­nel is their prerog­at­ive. But the digit­al-first politi­cian is mind­ful of her Core Message and embraces that audi­ences flow freely across online media. 5Silfwer, J. (2023, December 20). The Formula for Personal Branding. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​f​o​r​m​u​l​a​-​f​o​r​-​p​e​r​s​o​n​a​l​-​b​r​a​n​d​i​ng/

10. The Digital-First Politician Respects the Follower Contract 

Most politi­cians treat online com­mu­nic­a­tion as a tra­di­tion­al medi­um like any oth­er. But the digit­al-first politi­cian will use the inter­net to con­vey her respect to those inbound audi­ences who have act­ively chosen to listen. 6Silfwer, J. (2016, May 25). The Follower Contract. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​f​o​l​l​o​w​e​r​-​c​o​n​t​r​a​ct/

11. The Digital-First Politician Prioritises Her Online Tribe First 

Most politi­cians con­sider the inter­net a great way to reach new audi­ences. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would be focused on inbound sig­nals and her exist­ing online tribe. 7Silfwer, J. (2012, April 14). Social Group Sizes (The Social Brain Hypothesis). Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​g​r​o​u​p​-​s​i​z​es/

12. The Digital-First Politician Always Keeps Her Online Presence Dramatic

Most politi­cians are look­ing at what oth­er politi­cians are doing online. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would focus on doing the oppos­ite of whatever oth­ers are doing (“zig­ging when oth­ers are zag­ging”). 8Silfwer, J. (2023, December 4). Social Media Logic: The Amplification of Media Effects. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​o​c​i​a​l​-​m​e​d​i​a​-​l​o​g​ic/

13. The Digital-First Politician Jumps at Every Reason to Speak Her Truth

Most politi­cians are afraid of inter­net trolls, inter­net hate, and being cri­ti­cised in gen­er­al. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would be thank­ful and use any cri­tique as a reas­on to speak on behalf of her agenda. 9Silfwer, J. (2015, January 5). How to Deal with Online Trolls. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​o​n​l​i​n​e​-​t​r​o​l​ls/

14. The Digital-First Politician Uses Clear Call-to-Actions to Activate Her Audience

Most politi­cians are happy if they get air­time in tra­di­tion­al media. But the digit­al-first politi­cian would instead focus on provid­ing her online fol­low­ing with a rel­ev­ant call to action.

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Silfwer, J. (2020, April 21). The Content Themes PR Strategy: The Power of Focus. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​t​h​e​m​e​s​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/
2 Silfwer, J. (2016, August 25). The Stupid Majority PR Strategy: How Underdogs Dominate. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​t​u​p​i​d​-​m​a​j​o​r​i​t​y​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/
3 Silfwer, J. (2023, April 7). The Hidden Arena PR Strategy: Mobilise Change Agents. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​h​i​d​d​e​n​-​a​r​e​n​a​-​p​r​-​s​t​r​a​t​e​gy/
4 Silfwer, J. (2021, November 26). Content is Not Marketing — It’s Communications. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​i​s​-​n​o​t​-​m​a​r​k​e​t​i​ng/
5 Silfwer, J. (2023, December 20). The Formula for Personal Branding. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​f​o​r​m​u​l​a​-​f​o​r​-​p​e​r​s​o​n​a​l​-​b​r​a​n​d​i​ng/
6 Silfwer, J. (2016, May 25). The Follower Contract. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​f​o​l​l​o​w​e​r​-​c​o​n​t​r​a​ct/
7 Silfwer, J. (2012, April 14). Social Group Sizes (The Social Brain Hypothesis). Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​g​r​o​u​p​-​s​i​z​es/
8 Silfwer, J. (2023, December 4). Social Media Logic: The Amplification of Media Effects. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​o​c​i​a​l​-​m​e​d​i​a​-​l​o​g​ic/
9 Silfwer, J. (2015, January 5). How to Deal with Online Trolls. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​o​n​l​i​n​e​-​t​r​o​l​ls/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations obviously; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that it's good to have hobbies outside work.

The cover photo has

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