New Mexico Congressman Steven Pearce, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is using Facebook to make himself more accessible to his constituents who are halfway across the country.
Employing new tactics to engage with voters back home, such as video town halls that are posted to his Facebook wall, the Congressman is able to interact in new and different ways: To answer a question, give insight into his day or share details of a piece of legislation.
Pearce’s district is 10 hours of New Mexico desert from end to end, so using online tools to work with constituents is key, says Allison Cunningham, the Congressman’s social media guru.
Our Election Tracker 2012 reveals that Congressman Pearce’s Facebook devotion may be paying off. He currently has more than 2,000 Facebook fans.
What is Congressman Pearce’s Facebook strategy? And what role does Facebook play in the office’s overall outreach and communications efforts?
Our Facebook strategy really developed organically. The Congressman uses it as a way to directly communicate with constituents, and to keep them up to date on where he is and what he is doing.
We have a very large district, a 10-hour drive from one side to the other, so I think Facebook is a good testament to how tirelessly the Congressman works and travels.
What’s your biggest challenge in executing a Facebook strategy?
The biggest challenge is probably in content management. The Congressman loves to meet and take photos with people, so we are cautious not to overload people by uploading them all into a constant stream.
How many people in the Congressman’s office are devoted to maintaining his Facebook presence?
I would say that I am the only staffer who deals with it, and on rare occasion have help from someone else.
Does the Congressman post to Facebook on his own?
The Congressman does a lot of it himself. The only thing I really help with is uploading photos while he is on the road. All of the comments and captions are directly from him, and he even spends time reading constituent comments and making sure we respond to messages, questions, and concerns.
What is the most unique Facebook strategy or Facebook activity you have executed? Why was it successful?
We do a streaming Town Hall.We ask constituents to post questions over a certain extended period of time (onto an event wall on Facebook) and the Congressman records off-the-cuff video responses.
It’s a great way to offer people the flexibility of interacting on their own time, while giving genuine, personalized responses. Close to the deadline for questions, we get a surge of questions, and we often leave them up on our YouTube page. We are currently taking questions one our Facebook page.
What can fans of Congressman Pearce look forward to seeing on Facebook in the future?
The Congressman loves to try out new ways to communicate and new ways to make himself even more accessible. We hope to work on finding new ways to ask for input from constituents, and are excited to see the new Facebook timeline, which will help us to display photos in a more aesthetically pleasing way.
Why are members of Congress starting to leverage new technologies such as Facebook?
Facebook allows Members the opportunity to show constituents that they are actively engaged in their home districts and that they are responsive to needs, questions, and concerns.
What’s your official title and background? In other words, have you always worked in social media and what skills are important when serving in a social media role on Capitol Hill?
My official title is Executive Assistant/Director of New Media. I’ve utilized social media in my personal life for blogs I’ve contributed to and other such things, which ended up being useful in the last job I had off of Capitol Hill.
When I came into Congressman Pearce’s office, he had been so heavily involved in Facebook on his own for the last two years, he needed someone to come and work on it a significant period of time, and I was glad to do so.