Social Media is an aspect of technology that has been more enticing, faster-moving, more powerful, and more fickle than any other mode of communication—an almost daily topic here on npENGAGE, and one that nonprofit grassroots activists are constantly trying to harness. But because of the diversity and breadth of technology now available to grassroots advocates, it can be difficult to focus on where to make an investment.
Here at Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), we study how congress and citizens communicate and strive to improve communication pathways. Social Media interests us deeply in pursuing this mission, and that’s why CMF undertook a new study of the impact of social media on Capitol Hill. Respondents included communications directors and legislative directors in the House and Senate—the very people who review content posted on social media and decide how to integrate it into public policy actions.
We asked these decision-makers firsthand: what catches your attention and influences your thinking on an issue?
We’re excited to host a webinar this Tuesday, June 16th at 2:00-3:00 PM EST in partnership with Blackbaud to illuminate this topic. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the insights we’ll share:
The survey results showed some pretty clear strategies for using social media to connect your supporters to Congress.
- Don’t get dazzled by the 127 different social media platforms. Reddit, Instagram, and Snapchat may someday have their day in the sun, but as far as Congress is concerned, Facebook is king and Twitter is the crown prince.
- Legislators and their staffs focus mainly on reactions and comments to THEIR own posts, and are not too keen when someone tries to hijack the subject. This means that professional advocates need to plan accordingly, know when a lawmaker is attending a hearing or dropping a bill that will almost certainly end up in their Twitter feed. Politicians will closely monitor reactions, placing greater weight on constituents or representatives of constituents (such as a nonprofit leader).
- Even our experts at Congressional Management Foundation were shocked at how powerful and efficient social media can be in driving change: Whereas it might take hundreds of phone calls to move a needle during a crucial campaign, our survey showed just a few dozen well placed, authentic Facebook or Twitter comments will find their way into the office of a Member of Congress.
Although rallying 40 or 50 of your supporters to friend a House member or Senator and comment on an issue may seem small, it may in fact hold the power to be truly revolutionary!
For more on the Congressional Management Foundation survey of congressional staff and how social media is viewed on Capitol Hill, attend the upcoming Blackbaud webinar on Tuesday, June 16, 2:00 pm ET. Register and find more information at http://hello.blackbaud.com/Advocacy