Congressman Steve Israel Goes Social

In Chapter Four of my book I go into detail on how politicians have successfully employed and can still further leverage social media to drive success – two prime examples being Obama winning the 2008 Presidential Election and the future ramifications of online voting.twitter-egg

I stumbled upon a good piece by C-SPAN when I was at the gym this weekend.  The episode focused on Congressman Steve Israel (New York) and how he was using technology and social media to be more effective at reaching out to his constituents.  It is worth a watch (note: I couldn’t actually find the video on this page, but maybe I missed something).

Some of the practices that Israel is employing:

  1. Rather than only taking “straw” polls he hits the road with his HD Flip camera and interviews voters in his district about the most pressing issues.  He even took his Flip camera down to New Orleans to showcase what the recovery plan truly looked like.  Israel’s team then edits accordingly and posts to his official site and often his YouTube channel.
  2. He says he is an avid user of Twitter, however he only has 137 tweets (posts 1 or 2 a week) and 1,821 followers.  Unless it is a very small district that is not a lot of scale.  This interests me, because Rep. Israel is highlighted as a guy in Congress that is pushing the technology envelope (e.g. Twitter) and I applaud him, but, it does showcase just how far behind politicians are, which is surprising given Obama’s ability to defeat Clinton in the Primary by using technology.  You would think more politicians would be up to speed.
  3. Use of video Skype in his office
  4. On Facebook he has an individual/politician page and he also has a separate fan page.  My understanding (could be wrong) is that the politician page is the official page and that his personal fan page is unofficial.  What was interesting is that the politician page lists number of “supporters” (609) yet the icon still says click to become “a fan”(something maybe Facebook can help fix).  The fan pages still lists fans (147).  One of the more interesting posts was from a waitress:

“Mr. Israel,, it was great serving you at the golden reef diner today. you were a true gentleman…

One of the most intriguing parts of the C-SPAN interview was Israel’s frustration with the government being behind the times in policy for government officials use of technolgy.  We got a taste of this earlier in the year with Obama’s struggle to get approval to use his Blackberry.   A few points with Israel- 1) he couldn’t use his government issued phone for Twitter, rather he had his personal iPhone and Twitter application for this. 2) many government officials have two separate Facebook pages because what they are allowed to opine and do on the “official” Facebook fan page is restricted by government 3) on his government issued PC it was very cumbersome when he was switching back and forth between “official/secure” activity and actually using the Web and social media tools like everyone else does.

In the interview Israel indicates that technology enables a fully transparent government and that is what Socialnomics is all about.

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5 responses to “Congressman Steve Israel Goes Social

  1. Just as we have different clothes for different environments and social settings, we sometimes may find it useful to have domain-specific identities in cyberspace. This is for not necessarily any covert purpose, but sometimes for security and always for enabling comfortable communications.

    A while back, I produced a presentation now posted in Slideshare and on LinkedIn: ‘GOVATAR – How Do You Present Yourself?’
    http://www.slideshare.net/farnham/GOVATAR

  2. I think the fact that Isreal uses 2 Facebook accounts is interesting. Working in a sales / IT company, we are all the demographic who regularily uses Facebook. This issue of having a professional profile and a personal profile has come up a lot.

    I only have one account, but watch what is posted. For example, if there are any innapropriate pictures, I can “un-tag” myself. But some of my colleagues have professional self and personal self… for me, its too much up keep. I’ll stick with one “me.”

    • Drew:

      I believe the best policy is to only have one account. You need to be fully transparent and as you mention Drew it’s just too much work to carry on two personalities/accounts. It’s the elimination of social schizophrenia – you are who you are.

      • equalman:

        I love your comment –> “It’s the elimination of social schizophrenia – you are who you are.”
        I agree completely; however, is the rest of the population ready for it? The problem is that there has been no precedent set. Social and professional lives are converging, some are accepting and some are rejecting. I guess that is human nature.

      • Drew:

        I am glad you liked “It’s the elimination of social schizophrenia – you are who you are.” And to your question, I think that some people are ready for it, while others are not. It’s a huge fundamental shift so this is new to everyone. Hence why we see people getting fired or not getting hired due to this “transition period.” Time will tell whether this transparency is a good thing for society. While there will be growing pains I believe that the net is positive!

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