Colin Delany May 19, 2011

Predictions: The Future of Congressional Communications

A wealth of riches for our loyal readers! Check out the second guest article of the week, this one by a new guest author — Andrew Foxwell is the director of marketing and new media for iConstituent, a company that works with Congressional offices on digital communications. You can follow him at @andrewfoxwell.

Predictions: The Future of Congressional Communications

By Andrew Foxwell

In the campaign world, much buzz surrounds New Media, also called “digital” in some camps. The campaign world is a digital Wild West, a lawless society known for raising serious cash and getting people involved at astonishing speed. But what happens when a Member gets to Congress? Where does New Media find its place in the official communications of Congress?

All Members of Congress currently have a website, and most have an email newsletter tool to send out news, videos and other interactive pieces of content to their constituents. In addition, they all have a CRM to manage and respond to the hundreds of thousands of constituents they represent. Along with this mix, they also have (hopefully) some sort of social media account, either with Facebook or Twitter, or both. These tools are working, but questions remain. Are they working effectively? What change will the future bring? Here are iConstituent’s top three predictions:

1. The Ubiquity of Real-Time Feedback Platforms

The obvious big one here is Facebook, a place where feedback and commenting flows freely. Integrating Facebook into the Congressional communications strategy will reach more people, since Facebook gets 25% percent of all traffic on the web. Facebook may not be the only platform to use, but real-time feedback and input tools such as YouCut and others will become essential to the daily operation of our democracy.

2. The Explosion of Mobile Applications

With 31% of mobile users in the U.S. now owning smartphones, you can’t refute the idea that interacting with them on their mobile device is a good thing. Members with a smartphone application have a head start which is only going to grow. At iConstituent, we provide Members with smartphone applications that also integrate with their email newsletter and website content automatically. Plus, you can push a survey out on the application to get real-time feedback via mobile on any issue you want. In the future, this is what giving feedback to your Representative feels like.

3. The Rise of Internet Video Advertisements

Look for your representative’s face on Hulu, Pandora, and others talking about a piece of legislation. Think of watching the latest episode in the office and then bam, “Hi, I’m Congresswoman Jane Smith and I’d like your feedback on the latest issues in Congress.” It’s coming, trust us.

Thanks, Andrew! For more about Congressional communications, see the recent reviews of PopVox and VisibleVotecpd

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