The U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner debuted his Facebook timeline shortly after the new layout was unveiled.
The Ohio native upgraded three different Facebook pages to timeline, which his Digital Communications Director Don Seymour discussed with us in an exclusive interview.
How many Facebook pages do you manage, and have they all transitioned to timeline?
(Editor’s note: Boehner actually has a fourth Facebook page that hasn’t moved to the timeline layout. House rules require that members have separate government and political pages.)
How did you approach creating the Speaker’s Facebook timeline?
We had two goals in mind: We wanted to tell the story of Boehner’s family and small business background, and we wanted to highlight key dates over the last year when the House has passed important jobs bills.
For the Speaker’s background, we tried to focus on moments where we had photos or news articles available that we could highlight.
You’ll see several photos of him and his family, as well as his father’s tavern where the Speaker mopped floors and waited tables while growing up.
You’ll also see each House-passed jobs bill, along with a brief description of what it does and where it is now. Was it signed into law? Blocked by Senate Democrats?
Even here we tried to include photos whenever possible, such as when Speaker Boehner signed the three trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that were enacted into law.
How did you choose the Speaker’s cover and how do you think you will leverage that space moving forward?
Speaker Boehner is a very team-oriented person – he grew up in a big family, played football and ran his own small business.
So we try to reflect that in every way possible, including in the cover image which is a picture of our House Republican team talking about jobs.
The cover image gives us a lot of freedom to be creative, so we’ll keep looking for ways we can use it to promote our team, our jobs bills, and other issues important to the Speaker and House Republicans.
How do you decide what to post on each page?
Facebook is a part of our overall strategy of communicating and connecting with the American people, so we look at what’s happening in the House every day — what jobs bills are up for a vote, what events are going on – and map out the photos, videos, and blog posts we’re going to highlight.
Speaker Boehner’s official page usually features information about jobs bills and other legislation we’re working on, as well as the Speaker’s speeches and press conferences which are live streamed there each week (click on the “live” tab).
We also use Thinglink.com to make interactive graphics and charts, and will post those to Facebook as well.
The American Energy Initiative page is focused on Republican efforts to remove government barriers to energy production and stop policies that are driving up gas prices.
And the Pledge to America highlights steps the House has taken to fulfill the pledge made by House Republicans to listen to the American people and change the way Congress does business.
Does your office expect to launch new apps in the open graph?
We’re always trying to think of new and smarter ways to connect the Speaker with the American people.
And Speaker Boehner always urges Republicans to be aggressive and creative in using platforms like Facebook, so I imagine you’ll see other lawmakers come up with other innovative ideas in the months ahead.
What’s your favorite feature of timeline?
My favorite so far is the way it displays photographs. It’s very engaging. While we posted a lot of photos before, we’re adapting and posting them more often to make the timeline even more visually appealing.
Do you have any advice for Facebook page administrators that haven’t created a timeline yet?
I guess my only advice would be to start making the switch while you still have time to learn the ins and outs, preview the changes and iron out the kinks.