In looking at the search terms that steered people to this blog, I came across this question: can an elected official use social media too much? An interesting question, to say the least. The answer? Heck yes.
First – as I have said before, I think that an elected using social media is, in many ways, no different then a normal person who uses social media. So, keeping that in mind, we all have that friend who posts every time they beat a Candy Crush level, who overshares, who Vaguebooks and who is generally kind of annoying on social media.
Elected officials can very easily fall into the same trap, though hopefully not by doing the same things as noted above. This begs the question: how much is too much? It differs on every medium, of course. I don’t know if there is a too much when it comes to Twitter, for example. Twitter is meant for long conversations and quick updates. People don’t really notice if you tweet a lot. Facebook is a different story – I try never to update my personal and Representative page more than 2-3 times a day, and even that I don’t do regularly.
However, more than concentrating on how often you update, it’s more important to talk about content when it comes to using social media too much. A great example for me was what happened last November. Pennsylvania was in the midst of a very heated debate over a highly controversial transportation bill. As a member of the transportation committee, I was deeply involved in the debate. I tweeted quite a bit that week – answering questions, describing the floor debate and making jokes. I gained 50 followers that week (a personal best for me) and tweeted more than I ever had. People were tuned in an interested in the ongoing conversation. That’s why I gained so many. My point? When it comes to determining how much is too much, content is more important. If the content you churn out is useful, you are probably doing just fine.
What is more important to consider here, however, is this: social media is not the entire job. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: social media is a means to an end. It helps to drive elected officials to better relationships with their constituents. Accordingly, don’t confuse social media with doing the entire job. It’s a nice supplement, but social media is nothing compared to real, face-to-face interactions with your constituents. It becomes too much if you start to concentrate more on social media than doing the job.
What do you think? Anything to add? Let me know in the comments!