Politicians of all stripes are blasting our ears with pleas to vote for them Tuesday so you’d think they would respond to a little request for help via Twitter. And how about those poor incumbents not up for reelection this time around? Seems like they at least should be minding the political store.
Nooo. Or at least my little experiment to reach out to some Connecticut political leaders via Twitter fell on totally deaf ears.
To see how responsive these big Kahuanas would be, I tweeted the following:
#joelieberman, I’m a CT businesswoman discriminated against for a refinancing. Can u help?
I tweeted these a second time using the added word “2nd request.”
@governorrell, 2nd request, CT businesswoman discriminated again for a refinancing, can u help?
Now, I truly needed help with a refinancing issue. Our legislators in their estimable wisdom revised refinancing standards so that successful small business people like myself are denied the right to refinance at good terms … but that’s a whole other blog post.
I reached out to Jim Himes, the Democratic candidate for Congress in my district in Connecticut; Rosa L. DeLauro, the democratic Congresswoman for a neighboring district; U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell.
Not a tweet peep out of any of them. Now granted that only Himes is up for reelection but you would think at a time when anti-incumbency sentiment is so strong, incumbents would want to do something to show they are listening and care.
I also thought I’d try reaching out to them the old-fashioned way, also known as the telephone. I got an unsympathetic person in Himes’ office, who did nothing. Dodd’s and Lieberman’s office to their credit called me back and were helpful. And Dodd’s office went the extra mile in telling me they would reach out to lenders on my behalf. I did not call Rosa DeLauro’s or Rell’s offices.
Back to the social media part. It’s ironic that our current president in large measure was elected to office thanks to his skillful use of social media, yet if my test case shows anything it’s that many Connecticut politicians are Twitter virgins. They use it to broadcast, not to interact. Himes for example has 2,000+ followers but is following just 14 lucky souls. Governor Rell has nearly 2,600 followers and is following a mere 31.Connecticut pols’ tweets are about as interesting as a legal brief.
Here’s a typical one from Governor Rell. Will be inducting 11 veterans from CT in the CT Veterans Hall of Fame at the Legislative Office Building today.
I rest my case.
Connecticut’s leaders do seems to be doing a little more interacting on Facebook….or at least their constituents have a chance to get in their 2 cents worth. However, the politicians continue to broadcast rather than interact and engage.
Now, I’m by no means suggesting our leaders spend all day tweeting away. But certainly they could assign a few staffers to manage their accounts and truly use them as constituent listening posts with some genuine interaction.They could also tie their Twitter accounts to their Facebook pages and vice versa.
The fact is that these Connecticut politicians, and any politician for that matter, is missing a great, free opportunity to communicate–and to listen–on Twitter. And then there’s that little matter of ticking constituents like myself off by not responding.
To get some expert advice, I turned to my favorite social media guru, Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Sree’s advice:
“This is a case study in the importance for politicians–as well as companies big and small–to understand that social media isn’t just another marketing channel,” said Sree. “It’s a way to listen and to connect. We’re still early in the evolution of social media, but politicians who don’t learn how to use social media properly will find themselves in trouble in the months and years ahead.”
When will these Connecticut politicians wake up and seize the tweet? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.