Six U.S. senators, 20 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and three congressional committees unveiled timelines on their Facebook pages today, clearly voting in the affirmative for the new feature.
Most of these timelines appear to still be works in progress; other than the lawmakers’ birthdays, we haven’t seen much content dated before 2010.
We asked Andrew Foxwell, marketing and new media manager for iConstituent, which specializes in Facebook promotions for members of Congress, about his initial reaction to the upgraded pages so far, and he replied:
It will be interesting to see how members of Congress continue to populate content on their timeline. The question is whether the content will be engaging, whether it will increase engagement and as a result, improve democracy.
The new format allows administrators to ask users to interact instead of asking users to like your page. That is 1000 percent more valuable than a simple like! It makes the page dynamic and focuses it around people and conversations.
Facebook’s Washington, D.C. office shared documentation with all congressional offices on how to make the transition to timeline.
Here’s a rundown of some congressional timelines.
Senator Scott Brown (Republican, Massachusetts): He’s locked in a tight reelection race in Massachusetts, so it makes sense that his office might take advantage of the branding opportunities that timeline provides. Despite having an interesting footnote to his past (he was once a model), his timeline goes back to 2010, when he took office, and his birthday. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward timeline.
Senator Bob Casey (Democrat, Pennsylvania): Senator Casey is also up for reelection this year. His cover image, like Brown’s, is pretty straightforward. And his timeline includes his birthday, then, like Brown, it picks up again with 2010. Still a work in progress.
Representative Rick Crawford (Republican, Arkansas): The annual wild pig roast in the congressman’s district in Arkansas was front in center on the timeline. His timeline so far only goes as far back as 2012.
Representative Keith Ellison (Democrat, Minnesota): Congressman Ellison’s cover image contains a nifty night shot of the Minneapolis skyline, along with his head shot in the lower left corner. Otherwise, his content appears to be taken directly from his Facebook wall.
Representative Cynthia Lummis (Republican, Wyoming): Like many members, she chose a landscape image from her district to feature in the cover (although we had to think for a minute about her home state, since it wasn’t clear). Her timeline shares many graphs about one of the issues she cares about — the U.S. budget, along with links of video to her floor speeches.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Republican, Washington state): Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers runs the New Media Caucus for Republican members, so it’s not surprising she jumped at the chance to switch to timeline. Her staff says she will continue to update the page in coming weeks. The timeline is already robust as compared to many of her colleagues; the page dates back to 1990.
Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat, California): He chose a photo of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., to grace his cover, rather than show something from his home state. But its a nifty image nonetheless.
Other U.S. senators who have upgraded to timeline on their pages are:
- Mike Johanns, Republican, Nebraska;
- Ben Nelson, Democrat, Nebraska;
- Mark Udall, Democrat, Colorado;
- Daniel Akaka, Democrat, Hawaii;
And the other U.S. representatives who’ve upgraded to timeline on their pages are:
- Lou Barletta, Republican, Pennsylvania;
- John Duncan, Republican, Tennessee;
- Ruben Hinojosa , Democrat, Texas;
- Sandy Levin, Democrat, Michigan;
- Mike McIntyre, Democrat, North Carolina;
- Jeff Miller, Republican, Florida;
- Tom Cole, Republican, Oklahoma;
- John Olver, Democrat, Massachusetts;
- Bill Owens, Democrat, New York;
- Rick Crawford, Republican, Arkansas;
- Joe Pitts, Republican, Pennsylvania;
- Phil Roe, Republican, Tennessee;
- Kurt Schrader, Democrat, Oregon;
- Tim Scott, Republican, South Carolina;
- John Shimuks, Republican, Illinois; and
- Bill Shuster, Republican, Pennsylvania.
While we are heartened with the swift adoption of Facebook timeline by these congressional offices, we are hopeful that as time passes and more content is added, staffers will take full advantage of the timeline features to tell a more complete story about their bosses.