Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Elected officials more social

Communicating with elected officials for many of us can seem like a daunting task. The average person may envision a series of hoops and hurdles to jump through to actually make their point about an issue with lawmakers. In years past, this might have been a fair assessment, but today it simply holds no water.

It has never been easier for people to let elected officials know what they think about issues of concern.

More than a century ago, the process of communicating with elected officials became easier with the telephone. In recent years, getting in touch with officials was further simplified with email and faxes.

Methods for corresponding with lawmakers continue to evolve with the booming growth of social media websites.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube give people even more options when it comes to communicating with elected officials in federal, state and local government.

It is important to note that the growth of online communication is no reason to stop pursuing face-to-face meetings, making a phone call, writing or emailing your elected officials. Those methods are tried-and-true ways to share your opinion.

To the benefit of everyone, more and more federal, state and local officials are using social media.

In particular, governors have mostly caught the social media wave. According to a recent Stateline.org examination of the four social media services, 47 of 50 governors are communicating via Facebook or Twitter. About 70 percent of governors use YouTube to get their messages out by video.

And nearly half of all governors use all four social media sites. See for yourself here.

Of course, the majority of messages put out by governors and other elected officials are essentially press releases. But the good news is that they are reaching out to their constituents to keep them informed about what they are doing and what they think about certain issues.

It is up to constituents to take advantage of the new platforms available, as well as the time-tested methods, to push issues of concern.