By: J.D. Ross
School of Information Studies (iSchool) Professor Anthony Rotolo delivered a presentation on social media strategy to Senators and their staff members at the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. last week.
The talk, part of the Senate’s Sergeant At Arms Technology Conference Series, was geared toward elected officials and the press and media staffers working in the offices of Senators and Representatives. Rotolo discussed best practices for creating a social media strategy, how to engage in online conversations with constituents, and offered tips for using social media for crisis communications.
“They were interested in finding out how they could best stay connected to their constituents and further the role of government,” explained Rotolo. “They want to strategically use social media to hear from constituents and have an ongoing conversation.”
According to discussions Rotolo had with attendees, he believes that social media is fast emerging as a necessary communications channel in government. “They realize they need to do it. But many of the longstanding rules and established practices do not address social media issues. In some cases, social media may be contradictory to the established rules and practices of the Senate. The landscape is changing faster than the rules,” he said.
Initially, Rotolo said, he expected hesitation on the part of Senate staffers to use social media. “Instead,” Rotolo recounted, “they were very receptive and open. I talked to a room full of people who really wanted to do this, and I left feeling very good about the vision of the people at the Senate. It’s good for the government, it’s good for public access to elected officials. Most of them have no qualms about using social media as a conversation tool with the public – they just want to figure out how to do it right.”