Using YouTube to connect with your constituents

As a State Representative, my top priority is education.  Most of my legislative district is in the Allentown School District, which has suffered tremendously over the past four years. Over 400 teachers have been cut, resulting in a 20% reduction in staff.  It’s been an exceptionally frustrating experience, and my biggest goal as a State Representative is to restore as much of that funding as possible.

As a result of my position, as well as my family connections (my Mom is a teacher in New Jersey and my wife teaches in Allentown), I’ve developed a strong connection with teachers.  In an effort to, at a bare minimum, show them just how appreciated they are, I made this brief video:

Much to my surprise, the video went “mini-viral” and was shared 39 times from my Facebook page; it currently has over 370 views.  Of course, this is a relatively small number, but still signifigantly higher than many other videos that I and other members have made.  More to the point, I am confident that the vast majority of people who watched this video are either my constituents or teachers.  This is exactly who I was trying to connet with.

Here’s my point: Elected officials should make videos like this as often as possible.  Videos can easily be geared towards a specific constituency (teachers, police officers, union members, small business owners, etc). Doing so can help create a custom message.  Use your social media to share the video and make sure to Email it to appropriate contacts so they can share it as well.  As I discovered, if you make a specific video like this, the people to whom the video is targetted will obviously appreciate it.  This increases the odds that the video will be liked, shared or commented on, which obviously extends its reach.

Far more importantly: Making videos like this is good public policy.  It allows your constituents to know what you are thinking and what you are fighting for (or against).  It’s not nearly enough, of course – me saying thank you to teachers is great and all, but if I can’t find a way to bring more money home and save additional jobs, the words I say won’t have nearly as much impact.  That being said, videos like this allow for elected officials to connect with specific segments of their community.  This, in turn, goes back to what I believe is the core function of social media when it comes to politics: bringing elected officials closer to their constituents, and increasing a constituent’s awareness of what their elected officials are fighting for.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Can these videos be improved upon?  Let me know in the comments!

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