Whether for a consumer marketing or political election campaign, short-term social media strategies need a post-campaign plan. Call me sentimental, but I don’t think shutting things down is an effective use of the effort required to build a community, nor does it send a particularly rewarding message to the people who opted-in on your encouragement.

To the outside observer, social media was a tactical (not strategic) tool for candidates of the recent Ottawa municipal election. Among the signals, there seems to have been little if any planning for effective post-election (win or lose) use of the networks built during the campaign. Even small online community numbers of 300-2200 — as we’re seeing left over from the election — are strong starts. Instead of taking advantage of that support and rewarding supporters with a continued relationship, we’re seeing websites disappearing and thank-you/goodbye messages signaling the end of the line for online communities. Mayor-elect Jim Watson continues to use his social media channels to broadcast his calendar and current whereabouts.

Campaign managers from all circles (marketing and political) are punishing themselves and the people they represent by failing to have a plan to leverage networks for future activities. Just as politicians and their staff build databases from election to election, so too should they be using the online communities they build without having to re-organize each time.