Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Living Master Class in Social Media Strategy

The freshman Congresswoman’s online presence is equal parts radical and powerful. Learn from an influential millennial who grew up in a tweeting, snapping world.

Candice Helfand-Rogers By Candice Helfand-Rogers

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the new congresswoman for NY-14 - and a queen of social media. (Credit: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Facebook page)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the new Congresswoman for New York’s 14th district – and a queen of social media. (Credit: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Facebook page)

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing more than just going viral with her frequent social media posts — she’s effecting change by driving conversations.

The New York representative’s influence goes far beyond, say, a jocular response to the sharing of a college video in which she reenacted a scene from “The Breakfast Club,” posted in an attempt to discredit her. The freshman politician also has people — for example, 2020 Democratic hopefuls — contemplating ideas that were previously dismissed as radical.

Because of her, an increasing number of people are championing a 70-percent tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. Several other elected officials are backing the “Green New Deal” she supports, which would emphasize the development of an ecologically sustainable economy. Politicians are even trying to replicate her online outreach methods when communicating to their constituents — though, sometimes with less-than-desirable outcomes.

[Related: Check Out Our In-Depth Project on Women Running for Office in 2018]

So how does she do it so well?

1. She’s authentic.

Part of her social media savvy is natural, to be sure — as a 29-year-old woman, Ocasio-Cortez grew up in a digital world, and came of age as Twitter and Facebook took off. It’s like experts from Amber Williams of marketing firm Punkyflair to ad expert Jenn Grace and social media strategist Nichelle Stephens have told us in the past: authenticity is key, and cannot be forced.

2. She’s a breath of fresh air.

As The New York Times points out, Ocasio-Cortez has “emerged as a potent symbol for a diversifying Democratic Party: a young woman of color who is giving as good as she gets in a political system that has rarely rewarded people who look like her.” Reporter Shane Goldmacher adds that “her mastery of social media has allowed her to connect with audiences who might otherwise be alienated from Washington.”

Turns out, representation matters. Of course, this is hardly news — we have beat that drum ourselves when it comes to politics, as well as to the STEM industries and Hollywood. But as this bartender from the Bronx borough of New York City has shown us, change becomes more possible when organic shifts in representation occur. So be sure to open your mind when it comes to who you consult with and bring on board.

3. She lets us in.

It’s hard to imagine Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell busting a move on his Twitter account — though, we suppose you’re welcome to try.

But that’s another part of what sets Ocasio-Cortez apart from her elders: she’s fun! And female founders like belly dance instructor Oreet Jehassi Schwartz and the duo behind bra biz Harper Wilde have used levity and humor effectively to get ahead — or in the case of comedy club owners Caroline Hirsch and Amanda Austin, as a business model. So don’t be afraid to lighten up a little. Share a relevant, suitable-for-work meme, or a laugh with your Facebook fans in the comments section.

[Related: What Roadblocks are Millennial Female Entrepreneurs Hitting?]

Posted: January 14, 2019

Candice Helfand-RogersAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Living Master Class in Social Media Strategy