Here’s the problem with comparing yourself to an iPhone, if you don’t back it up by actually utilizing new technologies well, you come off as insincere and gimmicky. That’s the spot Michael Flaherty, one of the candidates for Mayor of the City of Boston, has placed himself in, at least in this blogger’s eyes.
This iPhone Can’t Tweet
Most Bostonians are familiar with his campaign, he’s got signs and advertisements everywhere comparing the incumbent Mayor Menino to old technologies and himself to new technologies. Like the picture above, where Meninino is an old-school blocky cell-phone from the 80’s, while Flaherty is a slick new iPhone.
It’s a really slick marketing campaign, but when you don’t back it up, you fail. It makes you come off as all talk and no walk, and worse makes your campaign seem disorganized and discordant. When you say you are new technology, but then fail to utilize new technology effectively, your proposed image and actual implementation end up contradicting each other.
How does Michael Flaherty fail?
In numerous ways, but for today’s example we’re going to focus on Twitter, something the “iPhone candidate” should be up to speed on, right? I mean, they do sort of go hand in hand. They’re both the latest hot piece of technology. The iPhone is a portable, handheld internet enabled computer while Twitter is one of, if not the, most popular online social messaging systems. Sure, every Twitter user does not have an iPhone and every iPhone user does not tweet, but the majority of the hardcore users of both likely have at least a base understanding of each other.
Twitter is for Communicating, not Broadcasting
There’s a huge misconception amongst many people that Twitter is for sending out inane updates about what you had for lunch or broadcasting your product to the masses. It is neither. While sending out tweets about your product or food choices can be effective at generating sales and showing your personality, if that’s all you do it shows a clear lack of understanding about the core of Twitter. More importantly, it likely won’t work. There’s exceptions, but for the most part, if you don’t engage no one will listen.
Let me break it down simply, for everyone, Twitter is a communication platform.
Twitter is not a:
- lunch menu
- something only web geeks do
It’s actually an immensely simple idea that got out of the way of people and allowed them to communicate quickly, easily, and freely.
When your Twitter stream has nothing but updates from you, meaning zero replies, zero ReTweets, zero interaction, and you’re following zero people, you fail. You come across as an automated yes-bot.
Take a look at Michael Flaherty’s Twitter stream:
As you can see it’s basically his events calendar.
Wow Michael, you just got out of a city council meeting, that’s amazing! Thanks for informing us that you’re doing your job!
Let’s Talk, Not Stalk
The problem which Michael’s tweets, is that I don’t care about any of the information there. If I wanted to know where he’ll be, I’d check his web-page and look for an events calendar. Twitter is for communicating, and when used correctly could be a potential revolution in how constituents can interact with their government. When used to broadcast messages one way, it shows a complete failure for even the most basic of understandings about how the system works.
Don’t talk at me, talk to me.
You know what, that last sentence is so absolutely crucial to using Twitter well, and being a good Mayor that I’m going to repeat it and highlight it.
Don’t talk at me, talk to me.
Look, I don’t expect Michael Flaherty to ingrain himself in the Twitter community but I do expect him to bring someone in who gets it and to get advice before just throwing up random content (by the way Michael, if this article hasn’t completely turned you off, I am available for social media consulting sessions).
Now, if Michael didn’t brand himself as a candidate that is an improvement over the incumbent, then I wouldn’t care much. You don’t need to use Twitter, but if you brand yourself as the equivalent of an iPhone and do brand yourself as an improvement over the incumbent, then I would expect you to tweet well.
In this case, Mayor Menino’s Twitter stream is done well. Sure, it’s done by a staff member, but I could care less. If a tweet gets sent that needs the Mayor’s attention, the staff member can relay it on. I’d rather have an intermediary do it well than to have whoever do it poorly.
What’s worse, is that Flaherty doesn’t understand a relatively simple piece of technology like Twitter. What does it mean when the 80’s cell-phone uses a new piece of technology better than the iPhone?
Yelling in my Ear in Real Life
At the Dorchester Day parade, Flaherty’s campaign was the only one that brought a truck out that had a guy inside yelling loudly into a bullhorn:
VOTE FOR MICHAEL FLAHERTY FOR MAYOR OF THE CITY OF BOSTON FOR 2009. MICHAEL FLAHERTY MICHAEL FLAHERTY MICHAEL FLAHERTY
I get it. Your campaign thinks Michael Flaherty is a swell guy, but here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter. Personally I could care less about the candidate, his attributes, his personality and his accomplishments. Frankly it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, it’s not about the candidate, it’s about the constituents.
Michael Flaherty may be a god amongst men, but what does that mean for me, a citizen of Boston? Whether Flaherty wins or not, we won’t be living in Flaherty land, we’ll still be living in Boston. Whoever wins will not be managing the entire city, their staff will. The direct impact of the person who’ll have the title will be minimal. How he interacts with his staff and how both interact and work with the citizens of Boston will determine how effective the mayor will be.
Someone who talks at me, not to me, does not sound like a team player. Someone who thinks it’s all about him, not about me and the other citizens of Boston, will fail. Someone who doesn’t realize it’s a good idea to ask someone with expertise in a field before diving in sounds like an egomaniac who will refuse to listen to outside ideas. That, to me, is not a mayor, it’s a dictator.