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What’s my obligation?

During a meeting this past weekend I once again had the chance to interact with local government officials from all over the country. I attended an excellent session on social media, mostly to see the reactions and hear the questions from meeting attendees.

What I heard from them was the same thing I had been hearing for years…this stuff is great, but I don’t have time, I don’t have staff, I don’t know how it works. I really felt that I had a possible solution for these officials, so I shared my thoughts during the discussion part of the workshop. I said that making a plan and mapping out a strategy is one of the best ways to help you get organized, even if you’re working all by yourself. Light bulbs went on, and many people thought this was a terrific idea. I still don’t know why not everyone thinks of making a plan first, reviewing the tools they will use and the outcomes they expect.

With just a bit of searching, we discovered folks local to meeting attendees already using Twitter and Facebook to discuss community activities and issues. These local officials did not know about this discussion at all. The conclusion was clear…”I need to get on board now to connect with my community.”

At this point in time, do local elected officials have a obligation to utilize, or at least monitor, social media channels to connect with their constituents?

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Profile Photo Corey McCarren

I think the constituents should decide if the obligation is there or not, but I do think the wise choice is yes, there is a need for officials to use social media. I don’t live on Long Island anymore, but I know just as much about what’s happening at home on a day to day basis because I follow the local paper, so social definitely does promote engagement and knowledge of what’s going on in worthwhile ways.

Profile Photo Peter Sperry

Only if they want to be reelcted. Within 3-5 election cycles there will be very few active elected officials who do not utilize social media because those who lag behind will not be competitive in November.

Profile Photo Jack Hernandez

Those election cycles do affect many decisions, especially those requiring money and that don’t produce immediate results. It’s too bad that an official’s time in office can’t be based on project completion.

Profile Photo Emily Landsman

Peter, I agree with you, but I think this year’s general election will be the last one in which a candidate can get away with not using social media. Even older officials who currently refuse to use it themselves will have staff monitoring and using SM tools.

Profile Photo Charles A. Ray

Officials who do not at least monitor social media are cutting themselves off from a large percentage of their constituency. In today’s world, most young people do the majority of their communication via this medium, so I don’t know how an official can even think he or she is doing an effective job if it’s ignored.