Friday, December 31, 2010

Social Media and Politics: A Look at the reach of 'Social Media Mayor' @corybooker

Recently, I was catching up on the news, when I spotted an article on Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker by @SuzanneVara, that praised his use of social media to keep residents informed about the cleanup effort after the snow that blanketed and buried much of the North East.

The article made mention of his (as of March 8, 2010) 1.1 million Twitter “followers”, plus nearly 20,000 Facebook “fans”.

Intrigued, looked him up on twitter and WOW. The man *gets it*.

That made me think about my own local Mayor and how Greensboro, NC city government uses (or doesn't) social media.

Greensboro City (no one on City Council or the Mayor has a twitter account) Twitter account was mainly a one way street until yesterday (see for yourself). No engagement and not following local residents who follow them. They don't *get it is my first reaction.

How can a Mayor with over a million twitter followers and Nearly 35, 000 facebook 'likers' manage to handle social media with ease while Greensboro City gimps along telling us who wish to speak with them "Because of the volume of mail received by the Mayor and Council, please do not expect a personal reply but be assured that the Mayor and/or Council member will read your message." Really Greensboro? Really?

It started with one RT, then another . . . soon many social media users in our #triad community were joining in a very robust discussion in 140 or less about how they all wished our community leaders took the time that Mayor @CoryBooker did, to show that they cared about what we thought, support us in what we were doing to build a stronger community on our own and to be more than just another account vomiting information.

Soon Donnie Turlington chimed in to assure us that changes were coming for Greensboro. Slowly, but they were on the way for @greensborocity in 2011.

(Thanks @vkearns @KristenDaukas @SHDickson @brandonburke @scheumanncpa @brandonpierce @doggdaze @PaulJones3 @Donnie_T for participating in this discussion about how we want change from @greensborocity & @CityofWS)

Lesson :

Mayor Cory Booker did more than use twitter to help clean up the streets of Newark, NJ, he helped residents in another state expect more from our local government online.

Thank you Mayor Booker for being the spark to a great discussion in the Triad and across the country!

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For more US Government using Social Media here is a great resource!

How does your local government/city officals use social media?

Who is doing it right?

What kind of engagement do you expect from politicians using social media?


  1. This was a great discussion! Bottomline: I expect some humanity and sharing without all the politics and grandstanding. I want to hear when something is "bad" what they are doing to "right it". I want them to share when something is good in our community.

  2. Thanks Victoria! I agree we need less grandstanding and more humanity in how our government interacts with us online.

    Was shocked to read how Mayor Bloomberg has used twitter to tell people "To report roads that need plowing or salt, call 311." Seems so cold and distant. Talking at people instead of with them.

    It is such a stark contrast to the positive messages coming from Mayor Cory Booker.

  3. I think most politicians shy away from social media engagement because they are scrutinized so much by the public -- every wrong exposed like it's a Hollywood blockbuster waiting to take off.

    Social media frankly scares the shit out of them from the PR and accountability perspective.

    Mayor Cory Booker manages it just fine though, so we know by his example that it can be done. And it can be done effectively, and as Victoria says with "humanity" in it - not the cold blog vomit messaging that most use.

    Have any of you noticed politicians seem to have no problem engaging via social media when they are up for election? O_o

  4. As we discussed at the end of the our extremely long exchange Thursday, the time has come where our officials, leaders and government offices need to move into the 21st century. People are watching, listening and starting to put their vote with the candidate that most closely resembles them. For those of us with a very strong SM stance, that could even mean choosing a new person to support.

    I am very proud that the end result of that was Greensboro chiming in for a conversation and then finally Winston-Salem in the end. Look forward to seeing what happens next.

  5. I am *so* tired of the political grandstanding. I do not want to see it in SM. If that is what you want to do with SM, please just stay old school and buy TV spots....and I will continue to ignore you.

  6. It saddens me how slow local government is to move into the 21st century. Social Media is something that can be used with little to no more being taken out of the budget. They can easily connect with their constituents without leaving their office. I am so glad a small dent was made in their cerebellum about the need to use social media. This was definitely the wake-up call they needed.
    Thanks for spearheading this cause, Danielle, and I am so honored to be part of the discussion and movement.

  7. I agree Kristen, having a candidate that understands the language of social media will play a greater roll in who gets the vote.

    And David, I agree with your point of view - that if candidates are only going to use Social Media to political rhetoric at me . . . I will choose NOT to follow or "like" them, both online in in the voting booth.

    Amazing how quickly social media is being adopted by politicians. In my opinion, the ones who are doing it well are the ones who will win future votes.

  8. Mark, Thank you for joining in and voicing your opinion about what we as voters expect from our local government.

    I agree that there is no excuse for Greensboro officials, or any other NC city officials for that matter, to see the opportunity that rests in LISTENING and engaging with voters on line using social media.

    We are all here online, working together to rebuild our local economy and discussing issues that impact our families. Where are they?

  9. Danielle, I'm really happy that you are bringing this issue to the forefront. It is time for politicians and government officials to begin engaging the community in more innovative ways. Twitter has become an excellent medium for spreading information and news, and for political discourse. I hope that our local leaders will continue in the tradition of Cory Booker. Again, great post!

  10. Thanks James! Really appreciate all you are doing for raising voter awareness in our community with Democracy at Home!

    Each of us have a role in the success of our communities and it begins when we register to vote.

  11. agree to that! politicians must need to involved in social media like twitter.I think It makes a big difference in politics. Thanks for sharing this! great work!

  12. Thanks for your comment! I am still impressed with Cory Booker and am glad to know that Donnie Turlington will be stepping up to help @greensborocity get with it.

  13. Over the past 15 months the City of Martinez, CA has been engaged in rewriting our medical cannabis dispensary ordinance. Since the legislation was adopted before I became involved with local politics I assumed the idea had been vetted by my community and folks were okay with the idea. Wrong. Once word got out that our council was redrafting the ordinance, resulting in actual dispensaries opening in our city, residents became incensed.

    Bottom line, the city could have saved time and money if only our elected officials actively engaged in two way communications beyond the telephone, mail and email.