Lawmakers, voters connect via social media

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/4/2013

Social media and its increasing popularity provide truckers and others with a great platform to weigh-in on and push issues of concern.

In the fall of 2013, a report of the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that nearly three-quarters of online adults use social networking sites. The numbers are up from two-thirds nearly 12 months earlier and up from about one-half five years ago.

Elected officials have taken notice.

According to the Congressional Management Foundation, congressional offices are using social media to help them gauge public opinion. While attending events in the district or state, receiving personalized messages from constituents, and holding town hall meetings remain “more tangible and verifiable forms of interaction with constituents,” nearly two-thirds of congressional staffs view Facebook as an important source for understanding voters’ views and concerns.

Twitter and YouTube are also viewed as important sources for understanding constituents.

In addition to using social media to understand constituents’ views, congressional staffs are relying on these sites to let constituents know about lawmakers’ views and activities.

The trend doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon. About one-third of congressional staffers said they would like to see their offices spend more time on online communications.

In New Jersey, state Senate President Steve Sweeney has jumped onboard the social media bandwagon by hosting “Twitter Thursdays.”

The potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2017 announced this week that he will be on Twitter once per week answering voters’ questions about “anything they like.” He describes the sessions as allowing his followers to ask him questions about anything from property taxes to football.

“Twitter is a great way for elected officials to stay directly in touch with the people,” Sweeney tweeted.

Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube give people various options to communicate with candidates and elected officials in federal, state and local government.

Land Line research found that all governors, with the exception of Wyoming, communicate via Facebook or Twitter. A high number of them also use YouTube to get their messages out by video. Thousands of state and federal lawmakers are also frequent users of social media sites.

OOIDA encourages truckers to take advantage of opportunities to communicate with elected officials. In addition to social media, tried-and-true methods to keep in touch include face-to-face meetings, making a phone call, and writing or emailing officials at all levels of government. These methods are excellent ways to share your opinion, as well as find out what your elected, and appointed, officials think about a particular issue.

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