Will politicians ever truly engage on social media?

I remain skeptical, as I discuss in this weeks Tuesday with Moore video blog. What do you think?

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Leila Sadeghi

John, I agree with your point on government’s engagement levels with the public, in particular elected officials and senior leaders, and made a similar point about this in my blog today. I am not saying that there aren’t some that are doing the right thing…I’m saying most are not engaging with the public despite many tools and platforms to do so. Simply creating profiles and having others field questions/comments/suggestions, is not valuing the bi-directional nature of social media and its implications for transforming government.

John Moore

Thanks Stephen. Leila, I’ll call you next Monday to see what you’re writing about, we can tag team it again. 🙂

John Moore

Governor Patrick, and Brad Blake via his on-line efforts,does a very nice job. However, he is more of an exception than the rule and he also suffers from many of the same challenges that Iam referring to. 🙂

Christina Morrison

Hi John,

I would agree that we have yet to see government officials truly embrace social media to its fullest capacity – however, I think it’s important to remember the relative infancy of some social media channels. Twitter, for instance, had just entered the mainstream in time for the 2008 presidential elections. And government specific channels like Campaign Ready from Microsoft had yet to be developed.

Certainly, politicians face risks of added scrutiny by engaging in social media, as they do whenever they speak publicly about their policies and beliefs. Because of this risk, it is no surprise that the adoption in government can be slow. However, I think that given time to learn and analyze, some politicians will figure out the best ways are to engage with their constituencies through social media and embrace those channels.

John Moore

Thanks Christina, I agree that, in time, some politicians will figure out how to fully leverage social media. I suspect, and no joking is intended, that by 2016 we will see a new breed of campaigning, a new breed of politician, one that is better able to leverage these solutions.

Andrew Krzmarzick

John – my hope is that by 2016, the current model of ‘pay to play’ will be crushed by the ability of the common person to run for office a la Adriel Hampton (uncommon and awesome, btw), but had a voice b/c of social media, creating the new kind of candidate you allude to below.

John Moore

First off, Adriel is awesome, no doubt, and he would have my vote. 🙂

While we should be shooting for the stars we must recognize that change, good or bad, is often slow. This kind of change will take time, but I have no doubt that we will see more examples of positive political change in the next few years as social media, and the transparency and engagement it demands, seeps deeper into our cultural core.

Alex Showerman

John, very interesting post. At this time I would agree most elected officials fail to truly engage. How ever more and more candidates are utilizing social media channels to engage in two-way conversation. For more check out Social Media Is For Complainers, (But Should Not Be!) This trend is extremely disturbing because it is leading to voter discontent.

The democrats and Barak Obama did an excellent job doing this in the 2008 election cycle, but then dropped all engagement once taking office. The republicans are doing a decent job in 2010 of engaging voters. Here is the problem with this current model, voters get used to being engaged, during the campaign, but then feel left out once the candidate is in office. This is why there is so much disappointment on the left with President Obama. Check out President Obama and A Supporter’s Hollow Feeling for more.

I think that as more people get used to being constantly engaged by social media, especially by the private sector and in campaigns, it will be come a necessity for elected officials to adopt a social media strategy that incorporates two way engagement. Those who don’t will be voted out!

John Moore

Really good points Alex. I agree with you that,to date,politicians have primarily used social media as part of an election-winning approach, not for ongoing engagement. I also agree that this will change in time but I believe the time frame we are looking at is long,a decade or more before we see wide-spread use of engagement at the politicial level as a national norm. However, at the local levelI think we can change this far sooner and that is my personal goal..

Looking forward to interacting and hearing more of your thoughts. Also, if your interested, check out CityCamp Boston, coming next March. This event (which I am putting together) is part of an effort to convert talk into action, hope you can make it.

Ari Herzog

You’re wrong. I am an elected city councilor and both I and many other local leaders I know are very engaging online. But is local government the branch of politician you are thinking about, John? 😉