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Political Engagement & Social Media

February 2, 2013 Featured, Politics/Policy, Popular Culture 15 Comments

Real action is needed to bring about change, it doesn’t happen on Facebook and blogs. That was the message at the City Affair panel discussion on political engagement held Thursday evening. Didn’t here about it? I knew because I got invited via a Facebook event (link). I posted a pic on my personal Facebook timeline when I checked into the event as well as on UrbanReviewSTL’s Facebook page and twitter account.

ABOVE: City Affair on 1/31/2013
ABOVE: City Affair on 1/31/2013

Yes, being on social doesn’t create change but it does a great job of making connections. But it is true, until like-minded people get tother in the same space nothing much happens. Social media also expands the awareness of an issue, increasing the likeliness of reaching enough people to ignite action.

Earlier this week an Intercontinental hotel in Egypt tweeted when it came under attack (story). Two years ago the world watched as people toppled the government of Hosni Mubarak. Tweets by themselves aren’t going to create sustained change.

But back in St. Louis I find Twitter is the simplest way to report a problem to Citizens Service Bureau (@stlcbs). Ok, it isn’t overthrowing a 30 year dictatorship but it is a citizen getting his government to respond.

The discussion of action items after Thursday’s event is taking place on…Facebook.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    So, was this a “public” event? Or a “private” event, limited to just those who were invited? Social media works great for connecting people who already choose to have a connection, not so much to engage people who are outside the existing circle. Politics needs both, those that share a passion, focus on and move specific issues forward and the greater “majority”, who need to be convinced to support any initiative. Given the rapid proliferation (and obsolescence) of delivery methods (remember pagers? Myspace? beta vs, VHS?), what works today can easily become yesterday’s news in a month or a year. Bottom line? Media, social or not, is a TOOL, not the “silver bullet” – you need to pick the best one(s) to connect to and with, at that point in time, the audience you’re trying to reach . . . .

    • It was a public event and these City Affair events are publicized far and wide.

      • JZ71 says:

        Define “far and wide”. The link says that 636 people were invited, out of a city of 320,000+. An invitation, by definition, implies a private event (unless you’re into crashing other people’s parties). If it were a public event, I would have expected much more publicity, in the mainstream media, in addition to facebook.

        • Ok, KSDK didn’t run this as a lead story on the 5pm news. I’ve blogged about City Affair before, they have 10-12 programs a month. You can follow them at http://cityaffairstl.tumblr.com

        • moe says:

          Agreed…what is far and wide? First time I’ve heard of this and this group. And yeah, I’m on FB, but I know many that are not. Guess they are not worth the effort.

          • As I indicated, City Affair also has a blog. Information on their events is posted on that site, the Facebook event is an additional way of spreading the word. Part of being engaged in a community is knowing the people who organize such events as these are not the type of things you see on the TV news or even in the newspaper. This is my point, social media plays an important role.

          • Eric says:

            Guess they can join. It’s free.

        • Eric says:

          1. Facebook has “public” events where some people are sent invitations, but anyone else who visits the page can join. I assume that is the case here.

          2. How much do you expect them to pay for that publicity? Facebook is free. If you want to be informed about such events, befriend/like them on Facebook. That’s easier than buying the newspaper each day in hope of seeing a printed announcement.

          • JZ71 says:

            1. Facebook has many detractors/avoiders who don’t like their privacy settings being continually manipulated and compromised.

            2. To befriend/like some one or something on Facebook, you first need to know that they exist. I “like” a bunch of stuff on fb, I was not aware of this group, and thus was not aware of this event.

            3. Facebook, Twitter and email all suffer from TMI – there’s simply too much garbage (cute kittens, pictures of meals, witty sayings) being sent out that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the truly useful information.

            4. I’m on my alderman’s email blast list, I read the local news online, I’m a member of my neighborhood organization, I get the AIA’s weekly newsletter, I check this blog every day. None of them publicized the event prior to its start. Don’t know if they had the the info and failed to pass it on or if the group relied solely on fb to “spread the word”. Fb may be “free”, but you may also be getting what you pay for . . . .

          • To stay informed you should also subscribe to the RES feed of this blog as well as all of the blogs in the blogroll in the right sidebar. I’ve added City Affair’s Tumblr blog to the list.

          • JZ71 says:

            Huh? What’s an RES feed? Where / how do I sign up?

            If Obama relied solely or primarily on scial media to get his message out, we’d now have Mitt Romney as president. Facebook is a tool, but one of many . . . .

          • Typo, RSS feed.

          • Moe says:

            Jz I find myself agreeing with you totally. You get what you pay for. Besides, there are many people especially in poorer neighborhoods that do not have access to computers or do not have the time to get all the crap (kittens, meals, etc). The point of view of Eric and Steve is that the citizen has to make the effort. I say bull. A citizen could be searching for weeks and not find this group or something similiar. If a group wants to be legitimate, it is the groups’ responsibility to do the outreach. If one posts on FB, you only get people on FB. Outreach should include all forms…electronic AND print.

  2. Mark Groth says:

    Thanks for the tip on CSB reports through twitter!


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