I’m happy to say that the article below was recently featured in State Legislatures, which is the official magazine of the National Conference of State Legislatures. My article was embedded in a larger article about Social Media and discusses some creative ways that elected officials can use social media. Click here to view the article, or read on.
On a personal note, this is something of a continued validation for me about this field. This is the second national publication that we’ve been featured in, and I think that’s a testament to this field. Elected officials need to be on social media, but many don’t know how. That’s what we are trying to help with.
Anyway, enjoy the article!
Are you out of interesting ideas for using social media? Here are a just a few ways you can energize your efforts.
By Representative Michael Schlossberg
We have finally hit a point where being an elected official on Facebook is no longer unique, but practically a job requirement. In fact, if you are reading this article, chances are, you are already using social media to help communicate with your constituents.
But, do you use it well? Uniquely? In a manner that is engaging, informational and provides added value for your constituents? Or are you just using it to regurgitate press releases?
If so, don’t. Using press releases on social media may be fine, but it’s not going to get more people to like or follow you.
To get constituents to connect with an elected official on social media, they have to want to get to know that official on a deeper level. They want to see what a day is like for their representative and where he or she stands on issues. Constituents want to get information that is relevant to their lives.
Break the mold. Take full advantage of social media by incorporating some of these innovative ideas into each of these social networks.
“Where Am I?” Pics on Facebook
When I’m out and about in my district, I’ll take a photo of a unique façade, upload it into Facebook, and ask, “Where am I today in the 132nd District?” Doing so serves two purposes: it shows off cool features in your district while establishing that you are out and about, not just sitting in your office.
Town Hall With a Twitter Twist
With enough advance notice and planning, you can host a constituent Town Hall. In a nutshell: Send out a press release, solicit questions and then answer them through tweets during a set time while using a Twitter hashtag (I use #AskSchloss). As an added bonus, the media loves covering stories like this, so you’ll likely get traditional press as well.
Vine Your Vote
You can record a video of your vote on an important issue and send it out via the Vine to give your vote an added push. Vine has the added bonus of appearing directly in someone’s Twitter feed, making the video easy to watch. Integrating it into your Facebook page is also a snap. A word of caution: Make sure it’s legal to shoot the Vine. In Pennsylvania, for example, no pictures or video can be recorded on the floor of the House without special permission from the speaker.
Instagram your Capitol
If your Capitol is anything like mine, it’s beautiful, filled with one-of-a-kind architecture and incredible views. Take pictures and upload them to Instagram. Then connect that account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Showing off the magnificent building in which you work can enhance the prestige of your job.
Segment Your Constituents in Google+
One of Google+’s greatest features is “circles,” which allows you to group your connections based on interests or other categories. Create a Google+ profile and then create your circles by issue (economic development, education, transportation, etc.) Sort your constituents appropriately; it’s not that hard if you keep up with it. Then, post information that is relevant to each circle. This way, you can ensure that the information you post is reaching those most interested in reading it.
Post Policy on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is less about cute pictures of your kids and more about demonstrating your expertise. With that understanding, use LinkedIn to discuss your various policy initiatives and post your policy papers. Go in-depth and ask for real feedback, not just a “like.”
Most people have some type of social media account, including elected officials. But too often, out of a lack of knowledge or lack of time or both, our use of social media is cliché. So be different. Break the mold and post interesting content in innovative ways, and you will be rewarded with a deeper connection to your constituents.
Pennsylvania Representative Michael Schlossberg writes a blog on social media and politics and has trained small businesses in how to take advantage of the benefits of using social media.