We the people.. are talking — Congress and Social Media


“The survey, published Jan. 26 from the Congressional Management Foundation, found that of  138 senior legislative office managers and communication staffers, 20 percent said Facebook is a “very important” tool for communicating a member’s views. But only 8 percent said it is very important for understanding constituents’ views.

The divide between broadcast and feedback is even bigger on YouTube, which 20 percent said is very important for communicating whereas only 4 percent said the same about understanding. For Twitter, the numbers are 12 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Read more at FierceGovernmentIT.com.”

Are you surprised? Because I was.

This is how I understand those numbers: Social media is important for telling people what government officials think, not listening. No listening online. Bad idea guys. Bad idea.

Considering February’s Experian Hitwise report that the average person spends an average of 2 hours and 12 minutes  tweeting, and over 4 hours posting and stalking reading updates on Facebook a month, we’re well on our way to social media accounts for all. Shit, half of Americans are already on Facebook. But politicians don’t worry about Facebook. Facebook members don’t vote.

WTF politicians? WTF political aides? Where are your kick ass social media teams?

I looked for some and I didn’t find many. The short list included:

  • Deval Patrick on Twitter: I like that Deval uses this voice in a really informative way, as a direct response tool and updates it frequently. Now, I’m biased because I met his social media team but they’re doing a great job.
  • Mayor Booker on Twitter: This is a specific situation where a political official listened to his voters by having a conversation during a tough moment – the blizzard in New Jersey December 26th, 2010. Just read the Times article above- they say it better than I could.

Not so great:

  • George Bush. His Facebook page is lame and written in the 3rd person. What’s so personal about that? People want to connect with the person, not this “brand”.
  • Everyone else.

So, I’m wondering — why do you think politicians aren’t harnessing the power of social media like every other demographic in America?