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Barbara Sharief As Internet Vanguard

More than just a local politician, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief is an example of an elected official at the vanguard of social media and web presence building. Her astute use of Facebook and her website blog to humanize her persona and communicate directly with her constituents contributes greatly to her popularity and electoral success.

It’s no secret that the Internet has changed politics in America forever. Between Barack Obama’s landmark explosion online in 2008 and the current controversy over Fake News and Russian intervention in American political theater, the Web’s influence might even be greater than traditional print media’s imprimatur.

The Web: Cheap Tool or Expensive Toy?

The Internet is a cheap tool or expensive toy. That’s what my professor used to say back in 1995 when the Web was in its nascent stages. Today’s Internet is dramatically different from 22 years ago but one thing remains true: how you employ your time online can have a dramatic effect on your return on investment, particularly as it applies to online presence building. Today’s top political figures are adept at integrating social media, blogging, and press appearances on television into their campaign profiles and their online reputations once they are elected.

Building an Effective Online Presence for Political Figures Is a Fluid Process

The most common error or misconception associated with online data and presence building is assuming that once you open a social media account or start a blog the work is done. In fact, content online is fluid, organic and very time-sensitive. To build a successful presence on Google results and social media, politicians are hiring full-time teams to employ tweets, Facebook posts and photo blogs on a regular, if not daily basis. The separation that takes place between a political figure’s identity and having a representative play their part on the web can sometimes make for a disconnect.

Interestingly, more and more elected officials at the state, local and federal levels (including a certain President) are eschewing the representative and contacting the world directly in the first person. Barbara Sharief has utilized this approach to great effect, particularly on social media with her Facebook and Twitter pages.

What Separates Barbara Sharief from Other Politicians in Florida

Mayor Sharief’s official website may be the most important station along the digital highway but it is only part of the picture. While the site is elegant, full of great photos and interesting news updates, it also has an excellent media/press page that keeps her constituents and fans up to date on her media appearances. But what makes Sharief unique among many political figures today is the degree to which her  presence online is approachable, likable, and sincere. It doesn’t feel canned or forced and this makes her an endearing figure on everything from her Facebook posts touting her “Broward Means Business” initiative to her Pinterest page highlighting her favorite Fort Lauderdale restaurants. The extent of her digital media presence includes a variety of well-crafted press releases, various video clips on news outlets and, of course, her social media network.

Barbara Sharief in Gold Coast’s Fort Lauderdale Daily Powerful Women Series

In many ways a political figure never stops campaigning, even after they have won an election. To this end, it is crucial for a politician to maintain a steady flow of appealing content and to engage with local businesses, personalities and institutions in his/her region.

Today’s complex mediasphere is a morass of confusion and competing content always enticing the viewer down the path of time and commitment. What remains key for an effective web presence as it pertains to elected officials is true for all: clean, well-crafted, and clear messaging will always win the day. This is especially true for those who utilize their humanity, charm and sincerity. Barbara Sharief represents the best example in South Florida.