Now I’ll be up front: I have my opinions about politics, and let’s just say Sarah Palin is not one of my favorite people. In fact, I’d rather hear anyone– including George Bush mis-pronouncing “nuclear”–speaking than Palin saying “you betcha.” I think it’s ridiculous that she quit her job as governor and she is still prominent on a national level, I think her views are wrong and I think she’s just not that smart.
So now that you know this about me, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that I was searching for Sarah Palin online the other day. Trust me, this wasn’t for pleasure – it was for a paper on the recent Alaska Senate race, in which Palin endorsed the Tea Party-backed candidate over the establishment Republican candidate. So I went looking for said endorsement for some quotes and evidence.
Guess what happens when you Google “Sarah Palin”? You get the usual Wikipedia listing and her Facebook page, but you do not get a website. Yep, you read that correctly: Sarah Palin does not have a website.
In an age where Facebook and twitter are important to engage with your audience, are websites taken for granted? Are they still necessary? Well, I would argue OF COURSE THEY ARE.
In this Sarah Palin case, let’s create a hypothetical situation in which she is running against Lisa Murkowski (another Alaska politician) for the Republican nomination for some elected position. If I am an undecided voter (use your imagination here!), I would want to compare each candidate’s position on a variety of issues important to me. So if Murkowski has a website that gives me not only her positions on these issues, but a biography about herself, and all I can find on Palin is her Facebook page and secondary sources, how am I supposed to make an informed decision?
Sure, she’s no longer an elected official, but once she’s done with her book tour and looks to the future, she will need an appropriate website detailing her experience and her views on issues.
I’m not the only one who thinks this, I promise. Check out this article from The Hill, which details how several GOP new-media strategists believe she has significant room for improvement when it comes to her web presence.
On a related note, while Murkowski’s website has appropriate information, it’s not my favorite (visually overwhelming). Check out Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer‘s campaign sites for other pretty good examples.
So the point of my post is this: of course, it is extremely important to use social media to engage with your audience, especially if that’s how they want to engage with you. But please don’t forget the traditional website, which is still the best treasure trove for people looking for more information about you. It will be interesting to see if Sarah Palin re-vamps her online strategy if she announces future political ambitions.