We made it! It’s the 21st Century and the future is finally here. While we don’t have flying cars or time travel just yet, modern advancements still impress us everyday. One innovation during this young century that can both impress and confuse many of us is the development and popularity of social media. Social media has changed the way we communicate with each other, leading to a seemingly smaller world with easier access to information.
How can grassroots advocates use this new 21st Century technology to advance our policy goals?
Today, everyone from teenagers to grandparents use social media. The popularity of this new communications medium, combined with its inexpensiveness, has become a helpful tool for Members of Congress to connect with their constituents. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or another platform, you’d be hard pressed to find a congressional office that isn’t on social media.
Here are a few things YOU can do to connect with legislators over social media (after you learn their basic functions):
1. Use Twitter and Facebook to get your issues in front of Members of Congress. Lawmakers want to hear from their constituents. They want to know what’s on the minds of the voters who will potentially re-elect them. Therefore, “tweeting” (posting on Twitter) about research papers, news articles, one pagers, or questions at Members of Congress helps them know the issues that matter to constituents. This is an excellent way to get your issues in front of Congress.
2. Thank Members of Congress via social media. Everyday, all day long, constituents, lobbyist, and advocacy groups are asking Members of Congress for something. By tweeting at a Member of Congress or posting on their Facebook page, advocates can show Members of Congress their appreciation for their action. This communication will set you apart from other advocates, and help Members of Congress recognize you the next time there is an issue you want to influence.
3. Use social media to show positive action. After you meet with your Member of Congress or staff, or your Member of Congress or staff attends an in-district event or site that supports your issues, make sure you tweet to your elected official’s page or post on Facebook about that action. Congressional offices like the free publicity of meeting since it shows that they are working for their district. Also, it reinforces the importance of their activity with your association/group.