Why are Politicians SO BAD at reaching their constituency?
I recently read SKM Media Group’s article on Politics and Social Media and, being the guy that gets excited by anything social media, the gears in my head started spinning. The blog entry covers social media usage by politicians. It highlights findings from the Pew Research Center stating that 81% of House and Senate members use a Twitter account, while only 18% of the 18-29 year old demographic do the same. With such a large percentage of our government representation on Twitter, they must know what they’re doing, right?
So, I set off to read some articles on the subject. One article, from the Corpus Christi Times, found that Republicans out-Tweet Democrats 2-1. While I don’t want to make generalizations about the social media prowess of all politicians, we can assume that the Republican Party matured after their social media-butt whooping in the 2008 election from President Obama.
Without the time to analyze all social media efforts, I will instead focus on the current US Senators from MA and the upcoming election.
@JohnKerry, the 2004 presidential candidate from the Democratic Party, enjoys name recognition for his political success. A quick review of John Kerry’s account shows that roughly 19,011 people follow Kerry. In response, Kerry “follows” 20 people on twitter, and, of those, three are from Massachusetts. Updates from the account sit at a miniscule 170.
In comparison, @ScottBrownMA has a following of 32,772, while he also has another Twitter account with 12,000+ followers, let’s imagine that those 12,000 follow this main account as well. Senator Brown therefore reciprocates by following back roughly 11% of his followers, (3,527). Brown’s account has sent out 1,146 updates.
In this comparison between Senators, Brown wins as he has:
- More Followers (people follow who they are interested in
- More Following (following hints that a person cares)
- More Interactions (it is more important to speak with than to speak at)
Conclusion 1: Senator Scott Brown connects with his audience better than Senator John Kerry
Let’s compare these two senators to the overall voting population of MA 4.2 million people. This is an article of assumptions, so let’s assume that ALL of the followers of these two senators are their MA constituents AND that a follower does not follow both senators. Then, @JohnKerry weighs in with .045% of the population while @ScottBrownMA has .078%. This is pathetic
If you follow politics at all, you know that an election is coming up for president, and, at the same time, for certain political seats. @ScottBrownMA is seeking reelection against @ElizabethForMA (Elizabeth Warren).
So what can @ElizabethForMA learn from the two MA senators? Well, as she is competing with Brown, she needs to do AT LEAST what Brown is doing. I know she is raising money, therefore, she needs to put some of this money into Social Media outreach to let voters know that she is a viable candidate. I don’t watch local news stations, so she needs to reach out to a place I am, Twitter. Her current twitter account is not doing enough (P.S add a photo to look human). Also, it’s very difficult to find her account. A simple Twitter search for Elizabeth Warren didn’t bring up her account
There are a many tools available to locate Twitter Accounts from MA. My recommendation is for Brown/Warren to not follow the antiquated methods of @JohnKerry, but instead update their campaign strategy to find people, like myself, on Twitter and interact with me. There are many more voters on Twitter than are currently being interacted with.
The candidate that reaches out through social media is the one that will win the election.
How can a Senator be “one with the people” if he/she is not reaching out to those they represent? For me, I never email or write a letter to a politician. This idea is antiquated to me, much like phone books or rotary phones. I enjoy the immediate satisfaction knowing that my message has been sent and that it won’t fall into a junk mail folder. Am I alone? I doubt it. If either Brown or Warren wants to reach out to me, I’d be glad to advise your campaign social media efforts.
What do you think?
Criticism of my writing:
In this writing, I make assumptions that are incorrect. For example, there is no doubt in my mind that Kerry and Brown are reaching a smaller percentage of people than their account hints at. While Brown is doing a much better job, it is illogical to realize that they do not use the tools available to reach out. Creating a dialogue and representing your constituency is what these guys were elected to do in the first place.
I didn’t cover Facebook in this entry as a way of making it more readable. I will cover this later
Next time, I will write on how a politician can maximize their online capabilities.
Interested in finding your representative on Twitter, go to http://twitter.pbworks.com/w/page/1779986/USGovernment