One unique use of social media for elected officials: Ask for help

I’ve run into many people in politics who believe that asking for help, publicly, is a bad thing.  It shows that you don’t know as much about a certain subject as you should, and it makes you seem more vulnerable/less knowledgeable.

To quote an older expression: Hogwash.

I had a very interesting experience on Facebook the other day, and I thought it was worth sharing.  In politics, one of my big issues is mental health, and specifically breaking stigmas surrounding mental health issues.  I am looking to engage in some sort of stigma-breaking campaign, and I am looking for groups to assist in that project.  I asked Facebook for more information on groups that did that type of work, and the results were remarkable:

The end result was at least fifteen different groups that may be able to help me in this project. All of this, incidentally, doesn’t include the two messages, one wall post or phone call I got from this status update.

Here’s my point: the old model of looking like you know everything is absurdly out of date.  You can’t, and trying to portray yourself that way is ridiculous. Personally, I think acknowledging when you need help with an issue is a very good thing for an elected official: it makes us seem like what we are – humans who are constantly on a quest for more information and better ways of helping the people we represent.

To that end, this is a use of social media I would absolutely recommend: Use it to seek help and wisdom. In addition to humanizing you, it give you a chance to show the issues you care about and demonstrate that you are constantly trying to be better.

I’d love to hear if anyone has had experiences with this, but on either side – good or bad – in terms of asking for help.  Your wisdom would be appreciated in the comments section!

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