Politicians join social networksSaturday, March 20, 2010By PATRICK JOHNSON
AMHERST – Not long after her April 2008 election to the School Committee, Catherine A. Sanderson thought she’d create a simple, little blog to keep voters informed about what the committee was doing and to gain voter feedback.
“Those were my noble goals,” she said of the origin of her blog,
In a matter of months, her simple, little blog grew and grew to the point of becoming neither simple nor little.
Her two to three posts per month grew to as many as 20, the monthly visitors tally reached as high as 10,000, and individual posts could generate as many as 150 reader comments.
Sanderson says the blog has more than accomplished its original purpose. “I ran on a platform of more communication and more transparency,” she said. “It’s hard to not communicate and not be transparent when you’re on a blog telling people, ‘Here is how I am going to vote and why.'”
Sanderson is one of many politicians at the local, state and federal levels who are realizing the importance of using simple blogging platforms, such as WordPress or Google’s Blogger, and social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, to connect with the voters.
“There’s no filter,” said Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik, who maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts. “People can get their message out to people exactly as they intend without it being altered, shortened or taken out of context.”
State Rep. Donald F. Humason Jr., R-Westfield, uses Facebook to keep in touch with friends and constituents. “Hopefully, they are doing the same thing,” he said.
The ease of conveying information to your own personal network of friends, fans and followers makes Facebook and Twitter a natural among politicians at all levels of government and on both sides of the aisle.