Hillary Clinton’s announcement of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her choice for running mate arrived by text, by tweet, via video, and through a finishing flurry of ready-made informational Kaine-memes, snowing social media like so much very white confetti. (Then there was a 24-hour after-party on Snapchat.)
Regardless of where you stand (or stomp) on her politics, you’ve got to admit, as political social media rollouts go, this one was pretty flawless — at least compared to the bizarre debut performance by amateur ventriloquist team Donald “I meant to do that” Trump and Mike “He meant to do that” Pence.
By this point, Hillary’s had more practice than most running for high office online — she announced her candidacy in 2008 via something called a “website.” (I’m not sure what that is either.) But after getting so thoroughly pwn3d by Obama (as was the parlance of the time), it hasn’t been such an easy climb to social media competence. The “Texts from Hillary” meme that blossomed in 2011 did some remarkable repairs to her online image; and it also doesn’t (or shouldn’t) hurt to have a dedicated digital team of over 100 people.
But too often, Hillary comes off as a person who believes LOL stands for “laughing on-line.” Notably, Clinton and Kaine dropped the ball on snagging a clean binomial domain name for use in the general — the URL clintonkaine.com directs to a scarcely populated page of “Hillary Potter” and “Timotonous Kaine” fan fiction. Let’s wince at that for a sec. (Meanwhile, trumppence.com can be yours for $475,000.)
A rookie mistake like this tell me there’s still work to be done. And with the nomination sealed and the ticket locked down, there’s no better time than the present to offer some basic social media dos and don’ts to the Hillary campaign for the months ahead.
Let’s start with Twitter, which — we just need to get this out the way — will never be yours. Don’t get me wrong: Your Twitter game has been very strong. That “Delete your account” tweet at Trump from early June may have permanently ruined “delete your account” for everyone else, but it was a worthy sacrifice in service of such a sick burn. Just know that trying to beat Donald Trump at Twitter is like trying to win a bad breath contest against a walrus. Do your best, but don’t kid yourself. (I would say just don’t tweet, but alas, you can’t not tweet.)
Additionally, don’t make up your own hashtags. Self-hashing at your level is like coming up with your own nickname. It’s also the trollbait equivalent of staring into a garden hose. (Remember the entirely preventable backfire of #HillarySoQualified?) Just let hashtags arrive organically, let them surface through the cesspool on their own.
Also, don’t mess around with emoji. You may have already learned this after that “tell us how student loan debt makes you feel in three emoji” fiasco. Just in case, you may feel tempted to put clapping hands after every word to add emphasis the way the kids are doing it. I urge you: No. Also, don’t quote yourself and then sign your tweets. That is two levels of weird. Just tweet it. Or don’t — just walk up to any given microphone and say it. It’ll reach us, I promise.
Finally, do follow some people. I realize Kanye only follows Kim, but you’re supposed to be a woman of the people. You’ve got 7.5 million followers and you only follow 676 of them back? And one of them is Connor Franta? To paraphrase a racist bowl of overcooked turnips: Sad.
Onto video, where, let’s be real, you’ve struggled a little. Between that god-awful parody of the “Sopranos” finale you attempted on YouTube 2007 (featuring Bill Clinton uttering the line “My money’s on Smash Mouth”) and the seven harrowing seconds on Snapchat we spent with you “chillin’ in Cedar Rapids” (which, it bears mentioning, is technically impossible), you have not had the most inspiring track record.
Still, your Snapchat game has been steadily improving lately (those “Sad! Libs” you snapped with Cory Booker last week were pretty solid. Just tread lightly. Do not, I repeat, do not post a face-swap video with Elizabeth Warren — unless you are just trying to upset me. (No, really — is that what you’re trying to do?)
Do livestream more frequently — but don’t feel obliged to Periscope every time you put hot sauce on something. As demonstrated by the spectacle of the congressional sit-in, livestreaming is a great way to simulate/stimulate democratic intimacy. I’d even recommend taking it a step further and pinning a little Narrative cam to your Chanel lapel to grant your followers a Hill’s-eye view of the campaign. (Maybe you could even join Beme! Maybe not.)
Also, I see from your Spotify profile that you’ve been on a real Ricky Martin kick lately. I’ve been there, but do try the Discover Weekly playlist. Sometimes algorithms know what we want to hear even better than, well . . . you.Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.