Congratulations! You are heading to Washington as a Senator or Representative. While many are going through the paces of orientation and reconnecting with their families after an arduous campaign, the intervening two months between Election Day and taking office are critical to maintaining supporter enthusiasm and building a strong political base for the legislative trials that lay ahead.
While hiring a chief of staff and deciding whether to uproot the family to the nation’s capital takes priority in the minds of Member-elects, some Washington newcomers are taking the time to share with supporters their transition to Congress and inform constituents of the early legislative battles they plan to wage.
Sean Duffy, the former Real World star and Congressman-elect for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, is shooting a series of short videos on a camera and posting them on Youtube. The videos include the freshman class photo, Duffy describing his co-sponsorship of a Republican bill to ban earmarks, and touring the Library of Congress. Duffy is also posting the videos on his campaign social media channels.
Steve Southerland, who defeated Allan Boyd to represent Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, is actively keeping fans engaged on Facebook by posting his freshman class photos, videos with national news outlets, and reposting national stories that mention him – including the House freshman office lottery.
Considering the time, money, and energy it took to build a strong social media following, it is important for new Members to maintain those channels to help disseminate their legislative achievements when the new Congress begins in January. While they had little difficulty garnering media interest during the campaign, new Representatives and Senators will find it much more difficult to compete for air time when the attention of the American public – and similarly the media – shifts to other matters. A little investment in social media now will go a long way toward controlling and distributing your messaging later.