Our Congress is a #SocialCongress

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When it comes to new digital trends, you'll rarely hear Congress called an "early adopter." Despite their sluggish reputation, they've grown a lot when it comes to social media usage. Just ask the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF). Last week, CMF's CEO Brad Fitch joined us for a discussion of their #SocialCongress survey. The report explores the ways members of Congress, and their staff, use these tools to communicate and listen to their constituents. What could these findings mean for the future of digital advocacy?

84% of staffers said that their member is "more inclined to use" social media now than in the past few years.

What does it mean? Social media continues to grow into one of the strongest tools for advocacy activities. Now that members pay attention to online conversations, we need to make sure we don't waste our chance to be heard. That starts with communicating tips and tricks to your advocates. For instance, staffers say that people who identify themselves as constituents catch and maintain their attention. If it isn't immediately clear to them that this person is a voter in their member's district, they won't necessarily spend resources and time interacting with them.

70% of staffers say that social media both allows them to have timely and meaningful interactions with constituents and simultaneously helps to hold Members of Congress more accountable.

What does that mean? We have all seen the blazing speed at which social media can work. Hill staffers have noted that this detail makes social media infinitely valuable. One staffer said: "It [social media] allows us to engage at a level and pace that is meaningful to decision making." While phone banking or email campaigns may take a while, a carefully planned out social media campaign can instantly reach a Member's office, ensuring that staffers see comments while the issue remains relevant.

84% of staffers said that shares and/or retweets were the most important metric for the success of social media postings.

What does that mean? Like many of us, Congressional offices judge the success of their posts by the number of shares, retweets, and likes (61%) they generate. Staffers also look at the number of new followers a post may spark and the quality of comments rather than the quantity. This means that when asking advocates to "Take Action" on social, focusing on specific engagements will yield better results. It also gives us some insight into what staffers may look at to determine if our organizations' posts carry enough weight to highlight in a report.

Do these snippets intrigue you? The insights above represent just a small portion of the findings in the #SocialCongress report. If you missed this month's webinar, don't fret! You can check it out on our archived webinar page - just another perk of being a member of the Digital Advocacy Institute.