Jun 10

VTGOVSM #1: Susan Bartlett

Susan Bartlett (D)Susan Bartlett

Website: http://www.bartlettforgovernor.com/

Blog: http://bartlettforgov.blogspot.com/

Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

What’s missing?  YouTube, custom Facebook URL, custom/branded Twitter background, strong search results, keyword rich website content, no email confirm.

When you start your search for this Democratic candidate in Google by typing in “Susan Bartlett” (yes, it’s an easy ego search) the candidate’s main website comes up first.  The next item you’ll probably notice is that the Markowitz campaign is on the ball and has purchased the keywords to get top placement for an AdWord (and yeah, I SO clicked it!).  Lt. Gov. candidate Steven Howard also has an Adword running.  What other information do you find out about Susan from the Googles?  Well, there are some links to local press (VPR and Green Mountain Daily), Project Vote Smart, CCTV and the VT Democrats site. What you don’t find are links to her Blog, Facebook or Twitter directly from Google.  Using Bing pulls up poorer results — main site is the first listed, but then not much else of substance, although you do find out she has a LinkedIn profile.

SEO Analysis: Bartlett has an online visibility issue. All of her online properties are not found on an ego search, and they should fill up the first set of listings as the most relevant. To fix this the campaign should take a hard look at not just what they are posting on the sites, but how to create unique and interesting content that is keyword rich.  Bios should include her name, her location and move away from “sales pitches”, (see twitter entry below for more specifics) and most importantly, capitalize on linking to the different online properties. Specific home page content on the website should also be keyword rich.  Remember folks the key here is to write in a way that pleases the humans AND the search engines!

The Website

This website is conspicuous for what you DON’T see vs. what you do see.  There is a lot of text on the main page of the site, but it is confusing in that it is more of a feed of recent news and less of a welcoming/engaging space.  You are asked off the bat to stay informed with a special widget that includes email, Twitter and Facebook.   The “contribute” area blends in at the top as part of the navigation which I find surprising since the overall goal here should be two-fold: 1) to raise funds and 2) to inform your constituents.  On an interesting aside, the folks over at the Burlington Free Press did a recent posting looking at the Bartlett site and were a bit cheeky about the fact that at the time she had a “contribute” widget where the current “stay informed” widget is.   We all have an opinion, eh? (grin).  The downside to this current set up:

  1. I signed up for the email and did not receive an immediate confirmation.  I should have received a confirmation email that welcomed me to the campaign and provided me with ways in which I could get involved.
  2. “Become a Fan” button is outdated.  Sorry folks, but Facebook has done away with “Fanning” and changed over to “Like” in April.
  3. “Follow me on Twitter” takes me directly to the Twitter site for the campaign and I get the same exact content there as I do on the Facebook page.  (bored now)
  4. Keyword text is bleak. Really, really bleak.  In the world of SEO, you need to focus on what people are looking for and current text emphasizes Seven Days (and while they rock, this doesn’t really help the campaign!).
  5. Layout and functionality of the site is austere and the long scrolling text is not engaging.
  6. The only link to the blog is buried in the text — not easy to find at all!  In theory the blog should be the area with the most activity.  Linking clearly to it and even having it as part of the upper navigation is very important here.

Website Recommendations: Emphasis on issues is solid but organization is a problem.  A few simple tweaks can really make the difference here.

  1. Move the contribute link from the top navigation to a stand alone button that catches attention.  Also open up a PayPal account to make it even easier for your users to donate. Oh, and make the donate button GREEN.
  2. Move news items into their own little section entitled “What the news media are saying about Susan”.
  3. Make the main page more welcoming — add a video welcome.
  4. Pull in a working Twitter feed and encourage people to engage on Twitter.  Keeps content looking fresh.
  5. Include a more powerful Facebook widget that allows visitors to the site to “Like” the page and see which of their friends like it as well.
  6. Tighten up the content.  Use words like “Governor” and “Leadership” and “Results”.  Organize the content so it is easier to read and encourages commentary, engagement with social media tools and signing up to do things.
  7. Get the blog more visible on the site. Make it part of the top navigation for sure.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

It’s pretty clear here that the Bartlett campaign is still focusing on the “push” side of marketing and have yet to really get the idea behind “engaging” with social media.  They aren’t alone, and many are trying to figure this out.  To begin there needs to be CONNECTION between all the tools. This is done by allowing people to access and even see the different options from any place they find the campaign. Then, instead of putting out the same message on all channels, be SELECTIVE and FOCUSED.

  1. Bartlett Blog: Good content here, however not terribly findable at the moment. Needs a bio, a Twitter feed (show most recent tweets, please) and a Facebook widget.  Also include a social bookmarking widget such as “add this”  — very easy to do with Blogger. Could we have some pictures please?  And how about some video?  The campaign can pull that right into the blog and it would jazz things up nicely.  Add in some links as well.  In the most recent post about a trip to Rutland, would it have been that hard to include a live link to Sustainable Rutland or to the Rutland Natural Resources Conservation District or even the Mayor’s office? Why is this important? Helps with SEO AND leaves a warm fuzzy in the hearts and minds of the people you visited AND your constituents.
  2. Bartlett Twitter: First it’s great the Campaign is Tweeting.  However what a missed opportunity! I’ve already noted that the Twitter page is not branded at all.  A custom background is as easy as a simple .jpg image.  The bio doesn’t really get at this candidate’s qualifications in my opinion: “Democratic candidate for Vermont governor. Vote for leadership and experience in the primary!”  is a sales pitch.  Given her emphasis on being a moderate who has served Vermont for a long time, I’d think they can do better, and think of keywords in the process.  How about, “Democratic candidate for the Governor of Vermont. Moderate, small-business owner, State Senator.” Most of the information that is on the Twitter stream is straight push of content.  Only 84 followers as of June 22nd as I write this and they are only following 49.  For a politician this is BAD.  The number is low considering that in Vermont there are 4,000 individuals and businesses with Twitter accounts according to recent stats from Twellow. The other area that the campaign needs to work on here is to actually link me to BLOG content! Tweets are sending me off to news sites with articles about issues, which is fine, but let me know when Susan has a policy or announces something.  Also make the tweets themselves a bit more “value-add”.  For example, there’s this, “Read the profile on Susan in Seven Days this week. We need a moderate Gov! http://bit.ly/aVeG9l #vt #vtgov #btv #fb #vtdem” which might be more interesting if it was written like this: “Profiled by @seven_days this week. A great piece that shows why we need a moderate Gov!” So more spice, more engagement and follow back people who follow you!
  3. Bartlett Facebook: The idea of a Facebook site is to create a space where you can engage with individuals who are part of that space.  Getting this engagement through discussions, posting videos and responding to questions is not easy and frankly is stumping many of the best brands — it comes down to value, incentive and entertainment (all tricky in the political realm).  The Bartlett page is challenged in several specific ways including no unique URL, no photo albums (with all the traveling and things going on you’d think SOMEONE in the campaign could upload a photo or two!), no video, no discussions.  Just wall posts that are exact replicas of the Twitter stream.  There are a few times there are some reactions — but no follow up from the campaign, no responses at all.  Missed opportunities include a campaign donate tab in the page, more unique posts that add more depth, blog content, campaign buttons/wallpaper/signs — things that are fun.  No polls, and no live links to the blog at all!  I’ve also not seen any Facebook Ads for the Bartlett Campaign.  Wonder if those are going to run?

Social Media Recommendations: CONNECT all the sites together in a more meaningful way. Don’t post all the same messages on Twitter and Facebook — utilize the mediums in the way they are meant to be used.  Get going on some video.  I know it is out there (VTDigger has a bunch of it on YouTube). Don’t have the staff? Don’t be afraid to ask your volunteers to create content for you! Creating a Susan Bartlett for Governor YouTube site and encouraging your supporters to post video of why they support Susan, or the house party fund raiser they had will do quite nicely (and if the campaign does create the YouTube channel, be sure to link to it from the website and the Facebook and the Twitter…you get the idea I hope!)

Final Thoughts: In general the Bartlett Campaign has a basic web presence.  There’s some solid content available for people to gain information and understand more about the issues the candidate cares about. Their overall presence which encompasses all areas including email lacks intentionality and focus on gaining contributions and getting people to talk about the candidate.  More can be done here…and more should be done.