I reached out to Senator Joyce after he joined my community on Twitter. Senator Joyce is serving his 7th term as a Senator from Massachusetts, representing the Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth district, which includes Avon, Braintree, Canton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Milton, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, and West Bridgewater.
The Senator agreed to an email-based interview, which I truly appreciated, to share his thoughts about the benefits of social media for his constituents and citizens in general.
Q. From a high-level perspective, what are the reasons that you make use of social media tools like Twitter?
A. Social media fosters an environment of open dialogue between my constituents and me. Facebook and Twitter enable me to communicate directly and instantaneously with my constituents, who in turn can provide feedback on the work I am doing on their behalf. These tools serve me well as I try to listen to the needs of my constituents and work to address the major challenges facing their respective communities.
Q. In your opinion, are you unique in how you approach the use of these tools?
A. By no means am I unique in my approach to the use of social media. On the contrary, I seek to learn from those who are successful in the application of these tools, and to adopt their best practices. In that respect I am, and will continue to be, very much a student of the social media realm as I seek to improve communication with my constituents.
Q. How has the use of social media benefited the citizens that you represent?
A. My presence in social media certainly enables my constituents to follow more closely my work as their State Senator. In that sense, social media serves as a resource to my constituents. I believe that those who follow me on Twitter and visit my Facebook page are better informed of my work at the State House than the majority of my constituents.
Q.In your opinion, what government agencies or officials are leading the charge in this area?
A. In Massachusetts, Governor Patrick has a commanding presence in the world of social media. He and his staff, nearly all of whom, it seems, are enthusiastic users of both Facebook and Twitter, are on the same page in terms of getting his message out to the right universe of people. The result of their efforts is the permeation of a consistent and coordinated message throughout the world of social media.
Q.Do you have any success stories, based upon the use of social media, that you could share?
A. Earlier this month the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) experienced a water pipe break, which temporarily rendered tap water unsafe to drink in a number of the communities I represent. As I received the latest updates on the crisis, I was able to share those updates, as well as critical safety guidelines, with my constituents almost instantly via Facebook and Twitter. I heard from a number of my constituents that the information I shared with them was helpful.
Q. How are we doing, at the Federal and local levels, to achieve a return on our investment in social media?
A. In my estimation, social media is thriving as a vehicle for debate and discussion of important local, national, and international issues. Blogs have, of course, served as forums for discussion of national political issues for several election cycles. Increasingly I am seeing similar trends developing at the local level. Some of the communities in my district have popular blogs and Facebook pages devoted to the affairs of that town. I believe that these trends will only increase in the coming years.