Vincent Harris on Presidential Twitter Hashtag Fails

International Business Times

July 1st, 2015

By Kerry Flynn

It may be the Snapchat election, but campaigns are committing Twitter gaffes like it’s 2008.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched his candidacy with the Twitter hashtag #TellingItLikeItIs, which quickly became an avenue for opponents to send messages about scandals within his administration. And when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal hosted a question-and-answer session on Twitter with the hashtag #AskBobby, the forum was flooded with Internet trolls.

Some say that every four years a new technology will define political campaigning, but so far this year has been defined by learning — or perhaps re-learning — how to cope with the old ones. “Twitter hasn’t actually changed all that much. It’s a conversational platform, and with that, it’s so easy to lose control,” said David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer at global advertising agency MRY. “You’re going to have hecklers and trolls. For Christie, in particular, he’s becoming more known as the guy who can’t control his story rather than the guy who speaks his mind.”

These blunders have been commonplace since Twitter was founded in 2006, as companies place themselves within existing conversations online and create new ones. But while Wall Street firms and national corporations have formalized strategies and learned to avoid certain formats and topics, politicians are repeatedly immersing themselves into a dangerous field…

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Vincent Harris, founder and CEO of Harris Media LLC, in the Austin, TX office

Vincent Harris, Rand Paul’s chief digital strategist, said effective Twitter use relies on encouraging participation from an existing supporter base and putting some money into the effort. Paul’s campaign has retweeted positive content and paid to promote that on Twitter, increasing its visibility.

Harris emphasized the time and thought that should be put into creating a hashtag. His three principles: 1) See what else the hashtag has been used for; 2) Be short — there’s only 140 characters to work with in a whole tweet; 3) Make it easy to spell. “Even if someone’s losing control, I’m always at least happy to be a citizen in a country where we can express these opinions,” Harris said.

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