May 8, 2012

Texas Politicians Lacking Social Media Skills Receive “aWards” from Houston blog

Published by Caroline Ward,

The use of social media is becoming more and more important in American life. Even in American politics.

Historically technophobic, lawmakers are being forced to adapt to the world of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr and Instagram — just a few of the major players in the realm of virtual connection.

After analyzing the social media use of each member of the U.S. Congress from the Lone Star State, Texas on the Potomac’s Caroline Ward has created the “aWards” to reWard the good, the bad and the ugly in Texas delegation social media usage.

Graphic by Caroline Ward/Hearst Newspapers

Now may we have the envelopes, please…

Call the social media CPS! Rep. Al Green receives the Social Media Neglect aWard for failure to communicate with his constituents via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. With the fewest Facebook likes (692), sporadic Facebook posts, the fewest tweets (68), following the fewest people on Twitter (15) and only 15 videos and six subscribers on his YouTube channel, the Democrat from Houston displays his unwillingness (or inability) to mass-communicate with his constituents. This may have been acceptable in 2008, when these resources were on the brink of changing the world, but in 2012, this is unacceptable.

Sen. John Cornyn receives the Trifecta aWard for his excellence in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The Republican from San Antonio has the most Facebook likes with 21,593, the most Tweets with 6,275 and 623 subscribers on his YouTube channel, only second to Ron Paul who has 21,895 subscribers.

The Luddite aWard goes to Ralph Hall. As the only member of the Texas delegation without a Twitter account and one of two without a YouTube channel, the Republican from Rockwall is the oldest member of congress who turned 89 on May 3. He does, however, have a Facebook. How many 89-year-olds do you know who have a Facebook?

Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco takes home the Most Innovative and Resourceful Facebook aWard for using a combination of outlets in a creative way. The Republican from San Antonio posts weekly recaps on his Facebook from each week in Washington in the form of YouTube videos. Constituents can connect easier with Quico because of these videos, which are more personal than a press release. He also has a feature where viewers can see the progress of legislation in graphic form; each piece of legislation is organized by issue.

Being recognized for his effective use of Facebook’s most recent format is Rep. Kenny Marchant. Many have been resistant to the timeline format of Facebook, but the Republican from Coppell is utilizing the new feature as a way for those who ‘like’ him to know more about his life and history. His profile includes the most significant milestones in his life, as well as pictures and colorful detail describing his past. Congratulations to Kenny Marchant for the Timeline Master aWard.

Rep. Kevin Brady’s calendar of events on Facebook is easily accessible and full of events. Anyone who wants to know the Republican from the Woodlands’ agenda can go directly to his events section on Facebook. Since August of 2009, this section has been frequently updated. Congratulations to Kevin Brady for the Pencil-You-In aWard.

With his diligent updating of his RSS feed on Facebook, Henry Cuellar earns the Best Use of RSS aWard for using this tool to publicize his press releases through another outlet.

Voters want to elect a representative, not a politician. Social media is a great way to publicize the work that the member of congress does outside of Washington (volunteering, school events, speaking at district events, etc.) and his or her personality and interests. Rep. Pete Sessions is receiving the Typical Politician aWard. His profile and cover photos depict a politician, not a representative, with the official congressional photos and Sessions speaking at the Capital Building. Generally speaking, they are nice pictures. The Republican from Dallas is quite photogenic; he isn’t sneezing, blinking, frowning or the like, but represented as a typical politician can be dangerous. Show us who you really are, Pete.

A special aWard goes to Rep. John Carter. As the only Texas representative with the audacity to post a profile picture portraying his right to bear arms, the Republican from Round Rock has been given the Gun-Totin’ aWard.

Rep. Sam Johnson has earned the Texas Pride aWard. In his profile picture, he is wearing jeans and a cowboy hat and his cover photo is a cutout of the Texas flag that spells “TEXAS.” The Republican from Plano exemplifies the pride that Texans wear on their sleeves while avoiding the typical politician persona. Kudos to Johnson for being himself.

The Longhorn Pride aWard goes to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Her cover photo shows that her collegiate school spirit toward the University of Texas is still strong, and the Republican from Dallas is willing to risk Aggie votes to prove it.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes has earned the Kid-Friendly aWard. In 13 of his 47 profile pictures the Democrat from El Paso is posing with nearly 100 youth. This portrays his image as a congressman who appeals to all ages.

It’s her 10th term in Congress, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson shows off her experience with her cover photo. The Democrat from Dallas combines several pictures of herself serving throughout her career, showing her extensive experience, with a Texas flag in the background. She receives the Throughout the Years aWard.

Twitter etiquette has an understood rule that we should follow our followers back. It is polite and common courtesy to reciprocate his or her interest, and Emily Post would agree. Likely because of his presidential campaign, Rep. Ron Paul has 150,545 followers on Twitter, but only follows 172 people, which is just over 0.1 percent. For this reason, the Republican from Lake Jackson wins  the Mean Girl aWard for being the most popular, but the least polite. As technology and social media become more complex, as do their social norms and manners; politicians would be wise to stay aware of this.

In contrast, Rep. Mike Conaway is the only representative to be following more people than he follows in Twitter. The Republican from Midland has 1306 followers, but he follows 1426. We are aWarding Conaway the Most Courteous Tweeter aWard for his willingness to reciprocate the interest and the politeness to make it a two-way connection on Twitter.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is notorious for her vocal tendencies and being the apple of the eye of the media. Last year, the Democrat from Houston delivered the second most speeches on the House floor, only behind Ted Poe. But her YouTube channel is ravenous with only five videos and five subscribers. Many politicians take advantage of the YouTube channels to upload their speeches (on and of the House floor) so constituents can become better acquainted with the views and platforms of the representatives. She is receiving the All Hat and No Cattle aWard. Unfortunately, Sheila Jackson Lee’s constituents will have to look elsewhere to hear all that she has to say.

Similarly, Rep. Charlie Gonzalez has five videos on his YouTube channel, but he has only three subscribers. The Democrat from San Antonio has earned the Least Popular YouTube Channel aWard.

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