Archive for Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jamie Shew answers questions about his staff’s decision to use social media to reach voters

April 1, 2009


This is the transcript of a Journal-World interview with Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew about his office using the micro-blogging Web site, Twitter, to send information about local elections.

Twitter only allows users to post messages of 140 characters or less.

Shew has a plan to expand his office’s use of social media and the Internet before the 2010 election.

Journal-World reporter George Diepenbrock posted questions from his Twitter username, gdiepenbrock. Shew responded to questions through the username for his office, dgcokselections.

gdiepenbrock: Jamie, thanks for doing this Twitter-view. When did you first personally start using Twitter?

dgcokselections: I started using Twitter personally during the fall of 2008 as many political campaigns started to explore its uses.

gdiepenbrock: As an elections official and political junkie, what do you see as the advantages of using Twitter in the political process?

dgcokselections: It is an additional tool for outreach, especially for mobilization of new generations of voters who communicate via social media.

gdiepenbrock: So, was there a point when you started to integrate it more into things you do at the clerk’s office? Or has it been gradual? Any examples?

dgcokselections: It has been gradual as we test which venues are appropriate. Using Twitter to share info that is broadcast in more traditional methods.

dgcokselections: We are really interested in developing a full scale approach by the 2010 elections when social media will have expanded even more.

dgcokselections: This has been in conjunction with our expanded use of the Web site to get information out to the public like online sample ballots.

gdiepenbrock: Have you used Twitter much for the April city-schools election?

dgcokselections: We started a couple of weeks ago with information about advance voting correlating with other outreach methods.

dgcokselections: Developing a presence in SM was a brainstorm of mine and since it is so new we are taking a slow rollout approach.

dgcokselections: It could have an impact as we try to engage younger voters who may get information from traditional sources.

dgcokselections: This does not replace traditional outreach but enhances those efforts to reach all demographics of voters.

gdiepenbrock: You “Tweeted” frustrations about typical low turnout for odd-year local elections. Could social media use do anything to help that?

dgcokselections: It is interesting that within minutes of my simple tweets regarding low voter turnout, reporters called for follow up and many RT’s occurred.

dgcokselections: Social media seems to be able to spread messages quickly across multiple domains which was evident when I tweeted those messages

gdiepenbrock: Have you or your office used any other forms of social media for election-type purposes?

dgcokselections: Twitter is our first foray into SM but we are considering other methods like Facebook, etc that allow another layer of contact with govt.

dgcokselections: Governments have to start thinking outside the bricks and mortar of the courthouse to create contact points in the new information age.

gdiepenbrock: How many reporters called you after that tweet?

dgcokselections: I received three contacts from print and radio including outside of Lawrence. SM extends the outreach beyond our boundaries.

dgcokselections: Also, SM helps enhance outreach with limited cost which is important with current budgets. I must be creative because I can’t pay for ads.

gdiepenbrock: Any other future plans or next steps you can provide that are working on for using SM with your office?

dgcokselections: This is the first step into developing a complete plan by 2010, this includes other methods like podcasting from our office.

dgcokselections: I think all of us including traditional media, are trying to discover how to utilize this new tool to enhance our connection with the public.

dgcokselections: I am excited to see where we will be a few years in all of these areas of social media, especially for those of us in public service.

gdiepenbrock: OK. Those are my questions. Anything else important you want to say on the social media topic before the end of your first Twitterview?

dgcokselections: I think I covered everything.

gdiepenbrock: Optimism is a good thing during changing times. Thanks again for the Twitterview, Jamie.

dgcokselections: Thanks. It was a lot of fun and challenged keep my answers brief:)


Phillbert 9 years, 2 months ago

A Twitterview! What a wonderful idea! I know I personally like people to ask and answer questions in as few words as possible - helps cut down on pesky things like "complex ideas" that can't be expressed in more than 140 letters.

Perhaps you should look at doing Vowelster-views using the new service that lets you post messages only using a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.

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