VTGOVSM #5: Peter Shumlin

Peter ShumlinPeter Shumlin

Website: http://www.shumlinforgovernor.com

Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube | LinkedIn

Other Features: Using “Networked Blogs” to important content directly into Facebook. Has a simple email confirmation. Nice YouTube integration. Includes Google Calendar. Facebook share button integrated throughout site. When coming to content through Networked Blogs, more sharing options available (but this is a frame and it is very confusing to the user.) Has one of the best Twitter bios I’ve seen so far. Has a “Company” LinkedIn Profile. Very interesting.

What’s Missing: A Blog. No, really.  Just because the campaign is using a tool named “Networked Blogs” don’t confuse that with having an actual blog. No Twitter feed on website. Has a very sparse, naked even, LinkedIn professional profile.


Shumlin has a great deal of content on the web — given his history in Vermont, that is not a surprise. The campaign site comes up first on an ego search, as does a great deal of news stories (my current favorite being the “stopped for speeding” coverage). A Wikipedia entry is right up there as is the Facebook Official page. Looks like the Dunne Campaign feels that Shumlin is worth some keyword buys as theirs is the only ad running on this search.  Over at Bing the results are pretty similar. So once again, not a great deal of content getting indexed by the major search engine, unless that content is created by traditional media on the web. (I am so looking forward to writing my next post about blogging and politicians).

SEO Analysis: Like most of the candidates the Shumlin campaign gets the nod for the main campaign site coming right up (relevancy is of course key here), but they lose points for all the other content that is not being found. Facebook comes up for this candidate, but YouTube, Flickr and Twitter do not.  LinkedIn only shows up on a special search.  Considering Shumlin announced LAST May (vs. this past May), I would have expected to see better results. Again it’s all about keywords and descriptions and more of those on the YouTube videos would be great (I especially like the whiteboard ads, although I’d suggest Peter that you consider the use of different colors and MORE ARROWS! Sorry, you have to be a student of mine to get it.)

The Website:

As my ex-mother-in-law used to say, “Age is a terrible, terrible thing” and when it comes to fonts on websites as I get older I am forced to agree with her. There’s something about script on a website coupled with a very small font that just gets my eyes very tired.  Perhaps I’m the only one? This site has good visual appeal but I find it very difficult to read. It’s clean and simple with that widget-ized look.  The pull out tabs for the social media sites is a nice little add on and the sign up for the email is very easy to find (although you have to click on it and it takes you to another window where you fill information out, which is a little odd). They have the RED letters for the DONATE tab which if you’ve been reading my series you know I’m not too fond of (a splash of green here would be nice). I guess my biggest pet peeve here is the blog or really the lack of the blog. I’m disappointed in the site functionality and how the content in the boxes links to what I would call “land-locked” islands of information.  In other words, you click from the home page on an item and it takes you to just that item in full, with no other  links to other content, so to find more content you have to go back to “home” or click on “issues” where you only find a few top of the line items (note that technology infrastructure is NOT on the list). The same goes for the so-called “blog” so you have no idea how to find the history of the information that was posted.  This is not a structure/programming I’ve seen before, as most sites are keen on providing multiple ways in which to view content. My sense is this is a structural issue that comes with the content management system they are using.  In my opinion this is a problem for the campaign. Their content is hard to find using search engines and current content is difficult to find directly from their website. The only way I could get to an overview of all the posts from the “blog” was to go into one of the posts and look at the comment section and click on “Posted in Peter’s Blog”.

So let me get right to the big issue here.  I say there’s no blog. And yet, right on the home page of the site in nice script lettering is the following, “From Peter’s Blog”. Folks this is a news feed. Plain and simple. This is NOT a blog. The campaign is pulling in “news items” that are actual mentions in traditional media (newspapers, TV in their online form) and then for the blog they are just posting news releases.  Let me repeat that this is NOT a blog. The candidate should be providing insight and information and policy and details.  That is not happening. Opportunity missed.

Website Recommendations:

Pop up the font a notch or two. Make it easier to read. Keep the top widget with the YouTube and the images — very nice and keep that sidebar with some of the content top of mind information. But please, please, please consider a real blog. And integrate a Twitter feed.  My guess is from the looks of the site it is a content management system of some type (WordPress to be exact, the same platform I’m using for this blog) which should make it fairly easy to pop in the Twitter feed code.  That will make some things a bit more current and make the Twitter account more accessible. But much like the other candidates my biggest advice here is for content. Social media and the Internet is built on content and that means a balance of words, pictures and video. They need to all come together.  Also make it easier for me to find all the posts from the “blog “(a great solution is a tab at the top that brings me to the blog category that provides an overview of all posts similar to the “issues” tab).

Social Media Tools: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn

The campaign is fairly consistent in their branding and “look and feel” throughout the different tools where it is easy to do so. In general they are just missing valuable content and linking. This is true across all the different tools — more descriptive words (other than, “Shumlin for Governor’s first Television Campaign Commercial”) would go a long way to helping get more visibility and to make it easier to understand the information that is being presented. All profiles and bios need to be filled out and since they have such a good one for the Twitter, why not replicate it on the YouTube and Flickr sites?  The same could be used for LinkedIn, although both those areas just need more content as a whole.


The Networked Blogs application works pretty nice in this context — it’s got a small user base right now, but it is a sweet little app that lets the campaign post content quickly to the official page and to the personal profile of the candidate.  (Looks like many of the candidates are doing that double life thing on Facebook.  It’s confusing but as long as y’all make sure to keep up on both, you’ll be ok, just remember that all those people you are “friending” aren’t necessarily your friends). The campaign has the “donate” tab at the top, and you’d think they’d take just an extra little bit to put in a .jpg image or something, but at least you get a link to a place to donate.  The “Boxes” area is up to date and provides links to the new commercials (hmmm…interesting that the new one isn’t up on YouTube yet).  The YouTube box seems to be broken, so either the campaign needs to fix it or just delete it.  Since you have your info in the “Boxes” area no need to duplicate it all. Like all the candidates the “engagement” issue is a continual challenge.  Content is pushed out on Facebook but I’m not seeing a lot of comments and back and forth with people who write on the wall.  Let me provide an example.  I wonder if the candidate would ignore a person if they came up to him and said:

Random Person Shumlin does not understand that nuclear power is safe. How many coal miners died in the last year ? 30 plus. How many oil workers died in the last year ? 11 plus. How many nuclear power workers died in the last twenty years ? 0 ( zero). So give me a break and talk reality. Have you priced a solar heating system… or solar electric system for residential use ….. no one can afford these systems unless you have the money that peter must have.

I’m betting not. But that is exactly what is happening on the Facebook Official page. Someone posted this on the page and there has been no response from the campaign.

So folks, time to get busy and check that Facebook page once a day just like you are checking the email and respond to people when they post there.  Don’t just push the content.  Engage.


I like how this campaign is using Twitter.  Yep, I said it. They are working hard to do a mix of things.  In their tweets we see actual messages from the candidate (several of us, myself, @counciloradrian. @vtwatch and @shaytotten had a bit of a back and forth the other day via Twitter about candidates signing their print materials and leave behinds. I of course asked the question, shouldn’t we then know when the candidate is tweeting vs. the campaign staff?) This campaign is clearly working on that.  Also there is a mix of link sharing, issues and a lot more substance. Less reporting of location.  Here are some examples (although I might take issue with telling academics what majors to offer at the college level, but that my friends is a very different kettle of fish):

  1. @Gyandevi 2/2 – that will focus on the #green industrial revolution! I’ll also push for a climate change major @UVM. We need a different way about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck in reply to Gyandevi
  2. @Gyandevi Income tax credits to all college grads who stay in #VT and work. Also, invest in education programs and higher ed programs …1/2 about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck in reply to Gyandevi
  3. @heif Hope they are all good things! -Pete about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck in reply to heif
  4. asoga Free Press letter to the editor: Shumlin pragmatic, tough, full of hope http://bit.ly/bVVulY #vt #vtgov about 7 hours ago via TweetDeck Retweeted by petershumlin
  5. Check out #BernieSander town hall meeting in #Putney: http://bit.ly/auhavK I talked about single-payer healthcare and reform as #VTGOV. about 6 hours ago via TweetDeck
  6. Health Care Town Meeting http://www.shumlinforgovernor.com/health-care-town-meeting/ #vt, #vtgovsm about 7 hours ago via Twitter Tools
  7. @lukeeriksen If we can invest some $$ in the eastern corridor and support a rail from #Bennington #VT to #NYC, we will be on our way! 8:56 PM Jul 31st via TweetDeck in reply to lukeeriksen
  8. @lukeeriksen The economic benefits of a strong rail system will certainly help our #VT local family farms and spark industrial growth. GO! 7:15 PM Jul 31st via TweetDeck in reply to lukeeriksen
  9. @lukeeriksen We should be doing better. Tracks on the East of #VT could use a facelift and we should improve/build track from #BTV 2 #NYC. 3:34 PM Jul 31st via TweetDeck in reply to lukeeriksen

Note the use of “-Pete” at the end of one of the tweets. In others, (which I didn’t include here) they are writing “Team Shumlin”.  Now they just have to get consistent.  So worried about the character length? Come up with a system. My suggestion is to use hashtagging. When Pete is actually tweeting end the tweet with #shumlin (there are no search results for that yet) and when it is the campaign staff tweeting use #teamshumlin.  Stop random hashtagging like “#BernieSander and #Putney and focus on using the “@” where appropriate (@senatorsanders), stick to #VT and  #BTV when appropriate. No need to hashtag #green either.  Remember these are about helping people search for Twitter content OR to get consistency in posting information. Each campaign should come up with some issues tags as well.  For example in the rail system conversation you missed an opportunity to hashtag #vtrail. These are nuances, but they can make a huge difference.

Oh, and also get that Twitter feed ported into your site NOW.  Don’t want to lose this content and not a lot of Vermonters on are on the Twitters but they might go to your site, so give them an idea of what you are doing with Twitter and how you are connecting with people using that tool.

YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn

Content, content, content. Use text to describe (nice keywords, like the full name of the candidate, and the issue, concern, idea the image, video represents). Keep things up to date.  I can’t figure out why the new ad isn’t up on YouTube yet. Also Peter you should take a 1/2 hour and update that LinkedIn profile with some real content.  Your campaign staff is doing an interesting job with the “organization” page and that has promise. Not sure I’d focus the resources there at this point though. Get the bio and information consistent among all the properties first and invest more time in blog content.

Social Media Recommendations:

Keep up the good work with Twitter. Get focused and create stronger content on a blog — and get a real blog going. Not sure how to do that? Not sure what to write? You are not alone and my next post will get at the heart of what I see to be the big issue with all of the candidates in this race for the Democratic nomination.  I can’t say it enough. Add value add value add value add value. You do this through content and engaging with people around the content.  This campaign has got a great start on doing this with Twitter.  Now they need to do this with Facebook and with their main campaign site.

Final Thoughts:

Um…write stuff.  Write good stuff. Don’t wait for the traditional media to publish it for you. Go straight to the people and get them to share, retweet, link and like it. But this, my friends you have all read from me before.

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