Do public leaders need to be great tweeters?

By Jackie Scott

I often wonder what our founding fathers would think of the social media tools used today by our elected officials and public leaders.  If Twitter was a communication vehicle in 1787, the preamble to the Constitution might  have read slightly different –
“We the tweeple of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”

 Last month, I read an article in Time magazine titled “Cory Booker:  The Mayor of Twitter and Blizzard Superhero” by Sean Gregory which showcased the Newark Mayors social media savvy during the December 26th blizzard (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2039945,00.html#ixzz1BzHl8QEs).  In a state of emergency, Mayor Booker turned the Twitter microblogging site into a public-service announcement and instant communications tool.  I was fascinated by the article and Mayor Bookers “Superhero” status and I wanted to learn more about the man behind the cape.  Could he really save the city of Newark from impending doom in 140 characters or less?

 I’m new to the twitterverse and consider myself a  “twittern”.  I recently launched my very first  twitter account http://twitter.com/niceworknj in December and I spend my “twitternship” learning, reading tweets, sharing existing content and following a few seasoned twitter professionals.   I’m intrigued by twitter personas, trending topics, communication styles and the tweeting rules of engagement.  For research sake, I started following Mayor Booker tweets and I was immediately impressed with his warm style of communicating with his constituents.  In the last few weeks on twitter, he inspired his followers to get healthy in 2011 by joining the national  “Lets Move” physical fitness campaign, he publicly shared success stories and failures in local government, he recruited and mobilized volunteers to participate in Martin Luther King  Day of Service projects in the city, he provided frequent status updates on issues and events in Newark, and he responded to his constituents needs and concerns in a timely manner with a friendly tone.

Quite frankly I’m not into politics and I don’t live in Newark, however I will continue to follow Mayor Bookers tweets.  This charismatic leader has mastered his “Mayor of Twitter” domain and I’m confident more public officials will be following his lead and his tweets!   Whether you are a public leader or a public servant, a CEO of a corporation or a non-profit organization – Twitter is a excellent engagement tool to connect, inform, inspire and share conversations with your constituents and/or stakeholders.

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3 Responses to Do public leaders need to be great tweeters?

  1. Sharon says:

    I read the same article then, as well as some of the comments afterward, and while I agree that he’s really smartly harnessed the ‘range’ and power of Twitter, it should be noted/appreciated (choose your own word) that it shouldn’t be relied upon as the primary source of communication. I don’t think it is, in this case, but it seemed like many of the “haters” comments I read were about a technological disconnect – being, that not everyone in Newark may have access to/need for twitter, and that his use doesn’t excuse any problems he may have/had as Mayor with communicating effectively with his constituency. Personally, and as someone who is technologically savvy (or at least “aware”), I think this is the new direction more people will be headed toward in the near future. Our town of 1500 people has a Facebook page, e.g., and has even used it to garner news coverage regarding local issues.

  2. niceworknj says:

    Thank you for your comment Sharon. You are correct, twitter is only one tool/component in a Social Media engagement strategy. And I’m glad to hear that your town is progressive and is using Facebook as one tool to engage with residents.

  3. Pingback: Do Non-Profit Leaders need to be great tweeters? | Niceworknj – Social Media for Non Profit Organizations

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