US Congress Staff Use Of Social Media

Photograph of congressional staff outside the US Capitol building.

United States Congressional Staff


Congress Foundation

14% of congressional communications staff consider online town hall meetings very important for understanding constituents’ views.

8% thought Facebook very important for that purpose.

7% thought online polls and surveys very important.

4% considered Twitter and 4% considered YouTube very important.

THOUGHT: I”m struck by how low these numbers are.

Staffers considered actual, face-to-face communication venues like district events, district office hours, and real, in-the-flesh town hall meetings far more important than online venues in gauging constituent opinion. I get that. That makes sense.

Still, I’d think online venues would rate higher.

The problem with online town hall meetings and Facebook and Twitter, of course, is that the people there tend to be more partisan and not necessarily representative of the public as a whole. That may be the case for offline venues as well but I think that partisans are more partisan online than off.

Either way, you’re probably not getting a representative picture of the opinion of ordinary, more moderate constituents. 

The Congress Foundation report doesn’t go into it, but if I were setting up a constituent monitoring system for a member of congress, in addition to what people are directly telling you through Facebook and Twitter, I’d mining local search data to see what constituents are searching for regarding politics and policy.

I’d be paying attention to local trending Twitter topics and follow and monitor local Twitter chatter.

I’d be paying attention to what videos are popular locally through YouTube’s Trends Dashboard.

I’m guessing they’re not doing this by and large.


KEYWORD WEDNESDAY: Speaking of politics, Guy Fawkes was the third most popular search this morning on Google. Remember, remember, the fifth of November…but wait, it’s the 10th of August…what the…?!? The reason The Old Guy is trending? The Anonymous hacker collective has vowed to kill Facebook due to their privacy practices on…wait for it…November 5th.


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