Being relatively new to Twitter, I was given a great opportunity through the MPA program last semester to work on a project with Mecklenburg County to research social media and suggest some ways they could better their current efforts. Along with three of my classmates, we put together a thorough (read “lengthy”) document as sort of a “How To” when establishing a social media presence for a local government. Through an interview I conducted for the project, I discovered that one of the best ways to keep tabs on what’s happening at the Legislature is via Twitter.
Insert skepticism. No way that following feeds on Twitter can be as good or better than being on the ground in Raleigh.
Without a doubt, following the right people on Twitter can sometimes leave you better informed of what’s happening in the House chamber than by even sitting in the chamber. So much happens so quickly that having 10-20 other people tweeting about it, bouncing ideas and criticisms back and forth during a floor debate, can allow for far greater clarity and a richer learning environment than I ever would have received on my own.
And the conversations occurring on Twitter are having an impact up here. For instance, a few weeks back Governor Bev Perdue issued an unexpected Executive Order to restore federal unemployment insurance benefits in NC. Now I’m not saying that the Speaker’s Office found out via Twitter. All I know is it was on my feed about five minutes before this place got a whole lot busier.
So I’m addicted. Honestly, I wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and grab my phone to catch the latest on Twitter. In 15 minutes I can be better informed about what’s breaking in Raleigh than if I sat down and watched CNN and News 14 for all their glorious 24 hours of coverage.
Now I’m not saying that you’re going to get the most detailed information out there. You just can’t fit that much into 140 characters. But the News and Observer loves to link to full stories, the Governor’s office usually includes her press statements, and the Speaker’s Office sometimes attaches YouTube updates.
Want to keep up with what’s going on at the Legislature, 24/7? Follow @NCCapitol, @underthedome, @binker, and @Josh_Ellis. Political back-and-forth more your thing? Follow @Fitzsimon or @faperrigo. And don’t worry, a good handful of the Senators and Representatives have jumped on the bandwagon too (I highly recommend @NCHouseSpeaker, @jerrytillman and @GrierMartin). Or maybe you’re interested in what’s happening back at UNC? Try @dailytarheel, @uncsog, @TarHeelFootball, and @chanthorp.
The shear amount of information can be a bit overwhelming and, after more than doubling the number of people I follow in the past month, I had to realize that I couldn’t read every post (nor should I have ever tried). But it is undoubtedly an invaluable tool that keeps me apace of everything happening along Jones Street.
And for the sake of transparency, if you want to follow me I’m @SphenM. But fair warning, I eat a lot of cereal.