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Oh, just helping out the Gov’nor

On Tuesday, Ron Miller was tweeting away – meeting new people, offering pertinent information – perhaps a little humor, when this tweet came across his screen:

Ron swiftly tweeted that the Governor should hire him to be his Secretary of Social Media because that was the most boring post he’d ever read.

Almost instantly, someone from Governor Patrick’s office emailed Ron and asked him for his phone number. The next day he received a phone call from Brad Blake, the man in charge of the Gov’s new media & online strategy.

Schooling the Governor’s office

They talked about how to use Twitter effectively to show the whole person. With Ron making the point that the great thing about Twitter is that you get to know people in a way you couldn’t otherwise. Obviously, with the Governor, you need to be careful about how you do this, but there are ways to let people see his day and what he does without exposing too much information.

Of course, Brad is having a hard time convincing everyone of Twitter’s importance, and Ron responded, “It’s just another communications method like email, snail mail or the bulletin board at the community center.”

But everyone that’s on Twitter, Ron included, knows that it’s faster – much, much faster. And, of course, Ron pointed out that Twitter would allow the Gov’s office to listen back to the people from a customer/constituent service kind of viewpoint.

For instance, a while back there was a conversation about the proposed doubling of tolls on the bridges north of Boston, that generated a lot of chatter. If Governor Patrick had been listening, he would have heard that some people weren’t happy about it – and why. He may not have changed his decision, but his public outreach – even his personal outreach! – could have included information that would have directly addressed the naysayers’ concerns.

If you think about it, this helps both sides: the people are heard and the Governor gets to show that he’s listening and, lo and behold, a real person himself.

I’ll be back.

Apparently, Governor Schwarzenegger has been on Twitter for about a year, but only just started following people. Originally, they had a policy not to follow back because they were worried people would think it was big brotherish – but, no so on Twitter. Since they started really participating and giving back on Twitter, the California Governor has increased his followers from 1500 to 8000 in a very short time – as in ‘about one week.’

But, let’s not forget that following people isn’t all there is. You must tweet interesting things, people – or you will be forgotten, unfollowed, and un-impactful, to say the least. Which is why Ron recommended Governor Patrick tweet more than the latest policy papers.

Luckily, the Massachusetts Governor has someone who really gets it on his team. Brad told Ron a story about a group he works with – they all friended each other on FaceBook, and he felt a stronger connection to them because he got to know them a bit more outside of the work they were doing together.

The humanizing of people

And isn’t this the point? To humanize people, to make them more than just their professional roles, more than someone just looking for a sale…and, in the case of these politicians, more than just census numbers? And, in the eyes of the people, more than just suits looking for votes and power?

Talk to the people, play with the people, listen to the people…then make a real difference.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • --Deb says:

    Julie–I love this post. I’ve only discovered Twitter in the last few months and am amazed at how much fun it is, but also how easy it is to connect to people. Like those old-fashioned internet chat rooms, but so, so much BETTER! And I love hearing these stories about how it WORKS–that is, how effective and amazing it is. It’s not like Ron could have picked up the telephone to tell the governor that some announcement on television was boring, but that tweet went right to the source. (Or, well, his staff, which is close enough these days.)

    So, so cool.

    Is it just me, or is it almost impossible to remember back to how we communicated BEFORE the internet?

  • beth says:

    Hi Julie – am enjoying your blog, and have awarded you the “I LOVE YOUR BLOG” award on my blog PhotoLooney!

  • Brad Blake says:

    Julie – thanks for the post on this and thanks again to Ron for his time and advice. I thought you and your readers might be interested in some info on some various social media tools and how we’re using them on our Staying Informed and Involved Online page.

    Also, here’s a great paper that the Federal Web Managers Council posted on some of the difficulties of using social media in government (and how they can be overcome!): Social Media and the Federal Government: Perceived and Real Barriers and Potential Solutions

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Brad! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing these awesome resources. See everyone? Government is changing! Brad and Governor Patrick have their finger on the pulse.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thank you, Beth! For that awesome award! WooHOO!

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