In the wake of President Obama’s January 21st inauguration, our social media world was bombarded with tweets, status updates and pictures of politicians partying it up with @BarackObama and @FLOTUS. It got us thinking, what are these politicians doing on social media when they’re not dancing the night away with Katy Perry and will.i.am?
According to Twitter, all 100 U.S. Senators are now tweeting, along with 90 percent (398 members) of the House of Representatives. This indicates a huge jump from 2011 alone, when 44 percent of the Senate and 35 percent of the House were on Twitter.
These elected officials are finding new voices on social media – voices that humanize their often pitch-perfect personas, but also run the risk of cracking these highly glossed public facades.
Here in Connecticut, our politicians are a good representation of how the vast majority of socially savvy public officials are spending their time online, posting updates that usually follow the rule of thirds: One third of the time, post about yourself or your brand. One third of the time, post about your interests by sharing information created by an outside source. One third of the time, be yourself by listening, interacting, asking questions, retweeting and reposting.
Senator Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) shares daily insights into his personal life and political actions, while clearly stating his point of view on topics of interest:
Senator Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) is a little more traditional with his tweets, rarely veering from his public work. It would be interesting to know if his 140-character messages are his own or the writings of a member of his team:
It’s not surprising that some politicians, who have spent their entire lives crafting their public images, tread carefully in the social media waters. We’ve all seen what can happen when an elected official goes rogue.
In early January, Connecticut state representative DebraLee Hovey faced harsh criticism following a now-deleted Facebook message aimed at former Congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords. “Stay out of my towns!!” Hovey posted when Giffords visited Newtown after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, claiming the visit was purely political.
Hovey quickly recanted. “The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman Gifford’s visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone I truly apologize,” she said in a statement.
… A statement crafted in private, away from the Internet.
What do you think about politicians on social media? Is it ever authentic, or is there always an underlying political motive? Have their posts and tweets changed your opinion or perceptions of them? Share your thoughts below – and find your state’s public officials here.