Is Social Media Really Communicating with Congress?

Finding out how much time our representatives in Washington, D.C. spend on Facebook might interest us if it means they’ll do a better job. iConstituent collaborates with congressional offices to maximize their Facebook use with the purpose of improving their communications with their constituents.

iConstituent got its start at the turn of the century and was shaped and nurtured by a group of interactive software specialists in California. The company now serves over 300 members across the U.S., including over 60 online advertising clients in the House of Representatives.

The company offers Congress, statewide office holders, state legislative caucuses, and various non-governmental organizations with products and services that range from website publishing to smartphone apps.

Republican Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss issued an iPhone app that allowed his constituents to call his office, check his position and other contact information, take surveys and access content generated by his office. He even went on camera to explain exactly what he is doing with social media.

Other House members such as Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn) have their own apps as well. These apps are designed by iConstituent. The basic idea of these apps is to make our representatives more available to us – the voters.

What I like about these apps is that we can stay in touch with our representatives while they are in Washington, D.C. making decisions and voting on legislation for our benefit. What if, a senator received thousands-upon-thousands of Facebook messages saying “Don’t Vote on the Healthcare Bill!” Would she change her vote? That’s a good question.

Recently with the frustration over Congress not agreeing on a debt reduction plan, it might have proved fruitful to send messages to our representatives via an app to tell them to do their job or we won’t vote for them again.

Andrew Foxwell, Marketing and New Media manager for iConstituent believes that “If we can get people to interact on a member’s Facebook profile with questions or opinions, this is our democracy in action. If done right, this also raises the tone of our debate significantly.”

With that said, I am really curious if using social media to communicate to our representatives is really all that effective. What do you think?