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Social Media Adoption by Members of Congress: Trends and Congressional Considerations

Social Media Adoption by Members of Congress: Trends and Congressional Considerations, Updated October 9, 2018.
“Communication between Members of Congress and their constituents has changed with the development of online social networking services. Many Members now use email, official websites, blogs, YouTube channels, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to communicate—technologies that were nonexistent or not widely available just a few decades ago. Social networking services have arguably enhanced the ability of Members of Congress to fulfill their representational duties by providing them with greater opportunities to share information and potentially to gauge constituent preferences in a real-time manner. In addition, electronic communication has reduced the marginal cost of communications. Unlike with postal letters, social media can allow Members to reach large numbers of constituents for a fixed cost. This report examines Member adoption of social media broadly. Because congressional adoption of long-standing social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is nearly ubiquitous, this report focuses on the adoption of other, newer social media platforms. These include Instagram, Flickr, and Google+, which have each been adopted by at least 2.5% of Representatives and Senators. Additionally, Members of Congress have adopted Snapchat, Medium, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Periscope, and Tumblr at lower levels. This report evaluates the adoption rates of various social media platforms and what the adoption of multiple platforms might mean for an office’s social media strategy. Data on congressional adoption of social media were collected by an academic institution in collaboration with the Congressional Research Service during the 2016-2017 academic year. This report provides a snapshot of a dynamic process. As with any new technology, the number of Members using any single social media platform, and the patterns of use, may change rapidly in short periods of time. As a result, the conclusions drawn from these data cannot necessarily be generalized or used to predict future behavior..”

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