What’s the one thing West Virginia politicians from neither party seem to understand?
Social media is the new bully pulpit! It’s the place to have and host 2-way conversations with voters . Never before have voters and their elected officials been able to communicate so easily in real time.
Politicians need to be the social media mixx.
The Mixxed Media Report Card
- 82nd Legislature a C-
- Republicans lead the way with a solid C
- Democrats trail behind with a D+
(Nobody in this class would receive the West Virginia Promise Scholarship with these grades)
Robert “Bob” Beach is dominating the entire legislature with his social media savvy. The Democrats may be a D+, but Senators Bob Beach and Senator Kessler are kicking much Republican virtual bootie when it comes to engaging with their voters.
Delegate Saira Blair, the 18-year-old Freshman Delegate is leading the GOP in social media engagement, and her fellow Republicans are leveraging social media in ways the Democrats are missing. All in all West Virginia Legislator are C- students and that needs to change.
Here are 3 key ways social media can work in politicians’ favor and improve West Virginia’s overall social media grade:
First, is the ability for politicians on social media to connect directly with voters and supporters— and in meaningful ways. In West Virginia, an election can be won or lost by hundreds of votes— or perhaps followers. Not to mention, social media appeals to a younger voters.
Politicians: Social media can still be personal, but far more efficient (and less intrusive) than the old-fashioned door-to-door campaigns. Voters are already there on social media, and voters will come to you.
Secondly, the best way for politicians to leverage social media and engage with their community is to be ON the platforms and USE them. Having an account on these platforms alone makes politicians more accessible.
Politicians: Do you know how many people in our state are using social media? If you did, I doubt I’d need to have this conversation with you. West Virginians are already gathered on social media; meet voters where voters are.
Third, social media provides politicians the opportunity to attract new resources such as businesses, tourists, and media interest for their communities. It makes creating ties and relationships easier and faster.
Politicians: Could national media find you in an instant? Yes, if you are on social media. No, if you are not. What opportunities are you missing to promote your community? How much money, resources and opportunities are you missing by ignoring the benefits of social media?
Bottom line, if you are in a political office— or you are a voter— you need a social media presence, and you need to demand that your leadership and representatives are participating across these platforms. There is no excuse.
When Social Becomes Necessity
Sometimes, social media is more than just smart politics. It becomes indispensable.
As trusted community leaders, politicians serve as a valuable resource when something goes wrong, and not just the next political scandal or national report on the ills of West Virginia, but in a real crisis or emergency. When people need information they trust political leaders, and the quickest real-time place to share information is on social media.
The previous statement was proven true during the Jan. 9, 2014 water crisis that affected 9 counties and more than 300,000 West Virginians. Those affected turned to their elected leaders as trusted sources of information; local news was also a vital quarterback to and from elected officials. Read more about How Social Media Changed The Equation On The Chemical Leak Story.
The community counts on leaders and leadership to be accessible and listening during times of need. Our elected officials need to take that responsibility seriously by staying on the communication front lines. Right now, that means Facebook and Twitter.
It is critical that West Virginia Legislators, regardless of party, understand social media, its power and presence. It is a utility that must be learned, leveraged and used as another extension of their community. I challenge the 82nd legislature— and all political offices and officers across West Virginia— to step into the 21st Century and join the conversation.
Download The Mixxed Media Social Media Report HERE.
- Don’t be like Jo from Kentucky and block voters . It’s rude.
- Don’t delete your account after some national media press, like Dan Kurcaba.
- And, please don’t lock your account like @JustinJMarcum @npguthrie @SenatorPlymale. What ya’ll hiding in there?