April 16, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Members Get Personal on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Takano’s Tumblr account has hooked many followers with its “There Will Be Charts” theme.

“Social media is such an important tool for communicating with my constituents, and Pinterest is a great way for me to connect with fellow moms, wives and Minnesotans,” Bachmann told CQ Roll Call.

Something to Aspire To

Outside observers have taken notice of the uptick in social-media strategies.

Brad Fitch, head of the Congressional Management Foundation, said it extends “to the point where we’re seeing new organizational charts emerge in congressional offices, where you’re seeing people shift resources to their communications team.”

The CMF, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works with members of Congress to enhance their interactions with constituents, is expanding its Gold Mouse Awards, typically reserved for best website practices, to include a Social Media category this year.

“The goal here is to shine the light on the best practices so that other offices that are interested in following those practices have some models and some guides to follow, especially with the newer [platforms],” Fitch told CQ Roll Call. The Gold Mouse Awards will be announced in February, followed by an awards ceremony in March.

“It allows members to look human. And one of the biggest challenges that Congress often faces is the dehumanization of Congress. One of the reasons that they have a low approval rating is because it’s easy to hate people you don’t know. Social media allows members of Congress to get to know their constituents as people on both sides of the aisle,” Fitch said.

Not everyone is such a fan. Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, agrees that social media has the potential to make members “seem more likable and human and more approachable,” but she doesn’t think it conveys anything about who they really are.

“It suggests intimacy that’s not real, [the] same thing movie stars and singers do,” she said.

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