We’ve all read about how political candidates use social media to win elections. While social media is a must for any campaign, political or not, Congress is now using social platforms to reach constituents in a new way. Instead of solely focusing on the bills they want passed or the platforms and issues they champion, Congress is using social media to put their life outside of their Capitol Hill office on display.
Common networks include Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. Roll Call reports that political figures who take advantage of this strategy will enjoy a competitive edge in coming years. Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Darren Issa have built large followings by highlighting family time and posting “Friday Kitties” memes. On Tumblr, Rep. Mark Takano personalizes floor charts and reappropriates content from other Congressmen to converse with people. Pinterest can be used in so many ways but Rep. Stephen Fincher posts photos that “show off his district.”
So what’s the return on investment? According to Brad Fitch, head of the Congressional Management Foundation, showcasing their personal lives “allows Members to look human. And one of the biggest challenges that Congress often faces is the dehumanization of Congress. One of the reasons that they have a low approval rating is because it’s easy to hate people you don’t know. Social media allows Members of Congress to get to know their constituents as people on both sides of the aisle.”
Platforms like Facebook encourage originality, creativity and personalization. Facebook even offers training to help the growing number of Congressmen interested in creating a Page. Katie Harbath, a manager of public policy for Facebook in Washington, recommends using a variety of strategies to show the American public what it is really like to hold a Congressional office. Unique, thoughtful, and well-planned content is hard to beat. Adding a personal touch could just be the icing on the cake.
Click here to read more in Roll Call.