Social Media Wins & Fails of AK Politicos
ANCHORAGE, AK— There are two types of Facebook stati: those providing the reader with value of some sort—informational, cautionary, or even just escapist entertainment value—and those benefitting only the writer: appeals for sympathy or money, self-congratulatory piety, boastful one-upsmanship, you know all the flavors.
The second type is never in short supply, but here are three examples of effective social media use by public officials which—while of benefit to constituents and the public, indeed for that very reason—will also pay dividends when the candidate makes an ask around campaign time.
The Feedback Loop
Fairbanks Rep. Scott Kawasaki’s approach highlights an admirable tendency to listen to his fellow Alaskans more than he talks at them. His Facebook posts will often take the form of a crowd-sourcing inquiry, seeking constituent input on issues from pre-K education and energy costs in the Interior, to the 2nd Amendment, to the feasibility of a medical school in Alaska.
The Informational & Organizing Tool
Senators Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski, and Representative Les Gara—Anchorage Democrats and inseparable legislative sidekicks—use their social media presence as an informational and organizing tool. Posts and tweets will inform readers about the latest production and revenue numbers from the oil industry, an expert’s testimony before a committee, or the latest boneheaded proposal from Captain Zero & The Taliban Caucus. Usually these three also include actionable information about where the reader can go, write, testify, or call to be heard on the matter.
The Roadside Assist
The gold standard for social media use is upheld by Juneau Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl, whose contributions are timely and of actual value to constituents.
And then of course there are social media presences who serve nothing but themselves.
The Relentless Self-Promoter
A hamfisted politician reminding you how much more s/he loves freedom, motherhood, and America more than a regular person loves those things. You should stand in awe of this individual’s obvious patriotic and moral superiority to yourself, while in no way feeling too intimidated to donate to his/her next campaign. See also “Giessel, Cathy.”
The Drunk-Tweeting Bro
If you run “digital & comms for @AKGovParnell” (whoa dude, sounds rad) and tweet on the gubernatorial behalf, you’re going to want to avoid stuff like this late at night:
Working in “Digital and Comms” and only having around 200 followers, by the way, should give prospective clients the same kind of pause that an empty restaurant gives diners.
The Vomitorium of Hate
At the bottom of the value-added/utility scale we find She who single-handedly destroyed Alaska’s brand. Her social media presence serves nothing but her own resentments and facilitating the apparent catharsis of spitting up political bile all over the internets. Her targets and themes are predictablet. For instance, First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to call attention to the childhood obesity epidemic are portrayed as those of a jackbooted tyrant kicking down the door of Liberty to rip the chocolate chip cookie from your daughter’s trembling hands.
Cue the Lee Greenwood jingoism and the dire warnings about America as we know it burning to the ground at the hands of Muslim infiltrators/a vengeful Christian God, and her remaining, gullible followers are whipped into another frenzy of outrage that leaves ‘em of a mind to donate to her latest grifty non-campaign shakedown scam. It’s like fantasy football for her Tea Party fans, except instead of acknowledging the “fantasy” part they fleece real people out of actual money.
What Did We Learn Today?
It’s probably wise for politicos to adapt the Hippocratic Oath (“first do no harm”) when deploying social media. Given the choice, you’re better off going the Fred Dyson path of luddite geezer and foregoing it altogether (especially if you’re about to piss off a whole lot of smart women who’d otherwise light you up on Twitter if you were there), than to emulate Fairbanks GOP misogynist and maternal tenant Lance Roberts by erecting permanent, towering online monuments to your own stupidity.