An Interview with Rep. Bill Post

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This is the first in what is hopefully a series of interview with legislators on the role of social media in legislating and campaigning.

You recently appeared in an Oregonian article about Twitter use among Oregon legislators. They found you're one of the top users. How did you get started using Twitter?

Ok to start let me address the opening question from the O story: Twitter is actually not my biggest social media source. I'm more Facebook. I started my Twitter and FB accounts about the same time for my radio show, when I started the run for the House last year, I opened new accounts. In both cases, I knew I HAD to reach more people with my message and found that social media was the outlet.

Editor's Note: Facebook boasts 1.28 billion monthly active users as of Mach 2014. Twitter is about half that at over 500 million.

Do you spend a lot of time trying to strike a balance on social media between authentic Bill Post vs. optimizing your message for voters?

I thought I was always "authentic" Bill Post. That's why folks elected me.

Good point about authenticity. Do you think on the whole that most public officials are authentic on social media?

I think most may want or even try but it looks to me like most don't have a grasp of social media and have their staff posting for them. They see it as I don't know, some "kid thing".

Which do you think is worse, a public official who isn’t going to be authentic on social media or one who doesn’t use social media at all?

Worse? One who doesn't use it. Stupid really. Probably still doing 99% mail. Dark ages man.

How important do you consider social media to be in a campaign?

I think social media is more critical to a campaign than just about any other media. You can target your audience more specifically and there's always the chance of the "ripple" effect for that one post that goes viral.

Do you think social media outreach is better than direct voter contact?

No, of course direct voter outreach is best, but it's darn close.

How would you rank the following campaign activities based on their value in campaigning: Door knocking, events, traditional ads (TV and radio), lawn/field signs, social media, online ads (social and search).

  1. Events
  2. Social Meda
  3. Door Knocking
  4. Online Ads
  5. Lawn/Field Signs
  6. Traditional Ads

Do you think social media has hurt or improved political discourse in the U.S.?

I think a little of both. Folks are using social media as their "news" without checking the sources, then repeating the same misinformation. On the other hand, social media has more people engaged in politics, it seems, then ever before. Will that translate to votes? I don't know.

What's one tip you have for politicians using social media now?

Find the social media that you are comfortable with and post, post, post. At least 4 times a day, SOMETHING, anything. Not your staff, YOU.

Who do you think has the best social media in Oregon? (could be a anybody, elected official, friend, group, company etc).

To be honest, I haven't found many people as engaged in social media as I have been, but then I have been doing it since the beginning due to my radio career.

My thanks to Representative Bill Post for very kindly agreeing to be interviewed.

Reagan Knopp