In the Washington Post last week, you may have seen an article entitled “K Street says social media are growing faster than traditional lobbying as a way to influence Washington.” We were excited to read about the trend at the federal level, because it’s something we’ve been seeing in Harrisburg for years.
The post did a poll of 202 Washington “insiders,” asking what they expect to see in public affairs trends in the next five years. The largest percent, 38 percent, said they believe organizations will expand a social media practice; 21 percent expect an increase in other digital capabilities; and 17 percent said they expect an increase in traditional lobbying.
We expected this trend years ago, and set out to build a social media presence for Triad that would demonstrate to clients our capacity to create a digital presence for them. We’ve built a following of some of the most important decision-makers across the state since we started tweeting in 2009.
Here’s our first tweet:
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.— Triad Strategies (@TriadStrategies) August 21, 2009
Our Facebook page was also launched in the fall of 2009, and we’ve been creating YouTube content since the spring of 2010. In the years following, we’ve cultivated the most robust social media platforms of any public affairs firm in Pennsylvania. We’ve built platforms for clients and curated their content, but what we are most proud of is the success we have had in using social media for advocacy.
Social media can be an important tool in integrated public affairs, and we’ve harnessed it to our clients’ advantage. The large majority of the members of the General Assembly are active on both Twitter and Facebook, and often use it to communicate with constituents and interest groups. It’s a lost opportunity to interact with decision makers if a group doesn’t have a social media presence. It can be used to activate members of an association, supporters of a cause, and inform the press.
Unlike traditional media, which can be expensive in terms of production and placement, social media can be set up and executed without costs beyond labor. It also drastically speeds up the timeline of communication. Instead of waiting for a story to be covered in the evening news or an op-ed in the Sunday paper, social media allows us to communicate a message instantaneously to the audience we want to reach.
When we begin digital advocacy work with a client, we sit down to determine what their goals are. From there, we work on creating a target audience to reach the stakeholders most important to a client’s mission. We will design a posting policy that makes the audience faithful to the client’s platform, and then strategically begin advocacy work.
Here are some platforms we’ve either set up, advised or managed for clients:
- The Wolf Organization: Twitter and LinkedIn
- Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Association: Facebook and Twitter
- PA Highway Information Association: Facebook and Twitter
- PA Coal Alliance: Facebook and Twitter
- PA Water Environment Association: Facebook
- ARIPPA: Facebook
Prior to its merger with the PA Chamber, the PA Business Council’s CEO David Patti turned to Triad Strategies to craft a strategy to utilize social media in educating Pennsylvanians on Common Core Standards.
A comprehensive government relations plan is critical to legislative success, and social media is just one piece of crafting that strategy. While important, it is just one tool in a tool box that includes boots-on-the-ground lobbying, grassroots engagement, traditional public relations, etc. If your organization is interested in strengthening its government relations efforts with the addition of digital advocacy, let us know.