Facebook Is A ‘Two-Way’ Channel For Congresswoman

For Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, whose district encompasses part of the Los Angeles area, using Facebook is one way she bridges the distance from Washington, D.C., to the West coast and her constituents.

While some offices may use Facebook to push out event details or post information about a bill, Representative Bass also uses the social media channel to let constituents ask questions or share concerns with her directly, according to Paul Bell, director of new media for the California congresswoman.

Facebook ads also play a key role in growing followers, which helps the congresswoman extend her reach to a broader group of constituents.

We talked to Bell to learn more about how Representative Bass is using Facebook to communicate with the people in her district.

What does Representative Bass share on Facebook?

Rep. Bass posts messages about bills introduced, bills voted on, and bills supported, but also uses it to tell constituents about upcoming events and solicits opinions through questions and comments sections.

When we have upcoming hearings in one of the committees she’s a member of, we’ll use Facebook to solicit questions constituents may have for panelists in the hearing and she’ll ask them on their behalf during the hearing.

How else does your office use Facebook?

We’ll hold a virtual town hall on pressing issues and call thousands of constituents over the phone but also stream video live online through Facebook applications allowing constituents to post comments so Rep. Bass will answer them live. It’s a great way to connect with constituents, but we use Facebook ads to promote these and other events.

iConstituent has just began managing our ads, and has shown an ability to provide ads that incite action and really grow our followers so we can engage with a broader section of our constituents.

We’re looking forward to continuing running ads with them and benefiting from manager Andrew Foxwell’s experience in running Facebook ads.

What does your office do to boost engagement during slow periods?

There are no slow periods. During recess, Rep. Bass is in the district holding events and meeting with constituents. We’ll post photos, videos and comments from the events and continue to communicate with constituents.

What’s been the reaction of constituents to the congresswoman’s use of Facebook?

We’ve received many positive reactions from constituents. They’re happy to connect with their representative and know that someone up in Washington listens to what they have to say.

We use Facebook because people use it, but in reality we use many platforms including Twitter and LinkedIn to open the door for communication with Rep. Bass.

What skills make a successful social media manager on Capitol Hill?

An understanding of technology helps, but in reality knowing what’s going on legislatively and politically is necessary to maximize the use of social media.

Knowing what and when to post so you receive the most bang for your buck — or post.

How many in your office manage the Facebook account?

Two people, including the Congress member. She enjoys posting her thoughts and reading and responding to constituent comments personally, but due to her busy schedule she’s not always free to do so in a timely fashion. I’ll step in and help post as necessary.

What else should we know about how your office uses Facebook?

We use Facebook not as a messaging device, as some in Congress do, but as a two-way communication platform that allows constituents to share thoughts and concerns with Rep. Bass.

This way we learn directly from the source how Rep. Bass’ work in Congress truly affects our district.

How do you envision using Facebook in the future?

We would like to hold town halls strictly on Facebook, but we haven’t hit critical mass where it would be a productive and timely conversation. We’ll continue growing our following with that goal in mind.

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