5 things I've learnt from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
As well as being a forward-thinking political wonder woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) is the youngest woman in Congress and was the second most talked about politician online in the U.S. last year. Last week, she hit headlines for a YouTube “make-up tutorial” video, and the week before, even got "@’d" by Cardi B in support of a 2024 bid for presidency.
This online success should come as no surprise - AOC’s strategy and behaviour online is exemplary, thoughtful, and adapted to audience behaviour.
Here’s a quick round-up of five things I think she does well, which we could all learn from and apply to our businesses, brands, and personal presence online:
1. She’s a whizz at humanising her work day experiences in politics, and exudes authenticity.
She makes a point to write her own tweets and always shares how she truly feels. Her digital emotional intelligence is a powerful tool and really helps with building trust amongst her audience.
2. She’s relatable and creates moments of truly personal content for her audience on Social Media. Even if politics isn’t really your "thing," she’s still worth a follow!
Where appropriate, your job shouldn’t define everything about you. It’s so important to embrace and share other aspects of your life. It’s what makes us human and connect in a meaningful way.
As in the recent Vogue Beauty Secrets video, she uses personal moments to also touch on politics and policies she believes in, in a tactical and conversational way to share important narratives amongst audiences that might not necessarily be tuning in to hear about politics in the first place.
The Vogue video gave AOC a platform to use a tried and tested "Social trope" format to talk through her beauty routine. In true AOC fashion, she also used the opportunity to touch on her opinion on pink tax, the importance of self-expression, confidence, being a woman of colour and the youngest woman in U.S. Congress.
“The reason why I think it’s so important to share these things is that, first of all, femininity has power, and in politics, there is so much criticism and nitpicking about how women and femme people present ourselves.” - AOC, Vogue Beauty Secrets
3. She understands the power of interacting with her audiences and champions accessibility on Instagram stories and Instagram Live.
She answers their questions and shares moments in her day, and is open to hearing their opinion on her policies.
4. She owns the narrative/story.
Social Media is such a powerful tool when it comes to accountability and credibility. In a media landscape when statements are so easily twisted and manipulated, having your own Social platform and ability to reach your audience is a godsend. Social Media has ushered in an age where online communities demand and expect radical transparency. AOC promotes this ethos, and lives it on the daily. She owns her voice.
5. She checks herself! While it’s great to share what you think, it’s also important to take time to think about what you’re really trying to communicate.
AOC has a term she calls “emptying the cart”.
"There are so many tweets that do not see the light of day -- there are so many. In my house we joke: We call it 'emptying the cart.' It's like when you go online shopping and then you're, like, 'Oh no, never mind,' and you leave the website." - AOC, Insider, 2019
From a Social perspective, Alexandria has a massive following across various channels (namely Twitter and Instagram). She isn't afraid to use her Social platforms as a lifestyle blogger or celebrity. Cruelty-free make-up brand Stila has repeatedly enjoyed her influential endorsement of their Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso (AOC's signature red) - earning the brand "Social currency" online as a result.
This doesn’t affect her reputation as a politician, and if anything, it has been beneficial to her rise.
In closing, I wanted to share a statement AOC made at an SXSW conference from late last year that jumped out at me. While this statement was on automation and artificial intelligence in particular, it really struck me that one of her core strengths is in her ability to understand and accept technology - and imagine the role it may have to play for future generations.
“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work, we should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem.”
This statement really cements the fact that AOC is open to accepting the brave future of disruption that comes hand-in-hand with new technologies. Given her excellent handling of Social Media, which was once considered “new technology,” I am confident that we are going to see some exciting things from her over the next ten years.
Change takes courage. Watch this space.
And yes, I’ve ordered the lipstick.