Social Media Playing Role In U.S. Policy Making

    November 4, 2009

Senior staff in the U.S. Congress and European Parliaments regularly access digital outlets and social media to research, influence and set policy, according to a new study by StrategyOne.

Nearly every staffer (96%) uses online resources for public policy research, more than half (54%) reported learning of policy issues for the first time online and (19%) actually changed policy positions based on information and opinions they found online.

Sixty percent said they access social media for personal reasons, but in addition, nearly one-third use it for communicating with professional colleagues (28%), one in five (21%) to reach out to constituents, and one in ten (9%) to research policy issues.


In addition, blogs are an important resource for staffers with two in five (39%) using blogs and social media sites in the past 30 days to monitor news about issues and the same percentage (39%) to monitor constituent opinion about an issue.

"When it comes to policy development and public affairs, we’re seeing a digital about-face as staffers and elected officials move from face time to Facebook and other social media to research and communicate on critical issues," said Jere Sullivan, Vice Chairman of Global Public Affairs, Edelman.

"Traditional communications and advocacy channels remain important and effective in all countries, but the growing influence of online cannot be overlooked and needs to be included in the mix of tools for communicating about and forming consensus on important policy issues." 

The survey identified the growing importance of digital tools for both communication with constituents and for constituents reaching their members. They noted websites have become universal in terms of their usage and effectiveness in reaching constituents (82% feel they are effective) while other outlets have shown positive impact, including online videos (52%), blogging (46%) and micro blogging such as Twitter (22%).

"Currently, staffers are showing a willingness to embrace these digital resources on a professional level which will allow them to build on their effectiveness in communicating on policy issues," said Mike Krempasky, Executive Vice President, Digital Public Affairs.

"We were also encouraged by the fact that our survey sample was of senior, tenured staffers who dispelled the myth that digital is only used by younger entry level staff."


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