For years, I have watched Members of Congress try and often fail to get social media. At first glance, social media seems like a phenomenal tool for Congress, and it is. Social media is a wonderful way to communicate with constituents and the broader public-at-large about issues. It enables a two-way conversation in a public space that Members of Congress should love. It allows them to truly engage and develop a relationship with the people who send them to Washington, D.C. That is some powerful stuff.
However, social media has turned into a very scary place for Members of Congress as well. Consider this: by definition, a digital native is at oldest in their early 30s. To be eligible to run for the House, one must be 25 years old, for the Senate 30 years old. Few members are actually that age. Social media requires Members of Congress to step out of their comfort zone and join a culture that might seem foreign to them.
Beyond that, social media inherently requires giving up control in a public forum and not taking one's self too seriously. That combination goes against almost everything a politician is about. Their advisors are constantly in their ear about not putting themselves into an uncontrollable environment, and by their nature, most take themselves and their work very seriously, and rightfully so -- they are involved in very important decisions that will impact all of our futures on a daily basis.
That is why I love this video by Loretta Sanchez. Entitled, "2012 Summer Intern Project -- Call Me Maybe."
It is yet another in the list of spoofs of Carly Rae Jepsen's viral hit, "Call Me Maybe." It shows an extremely important senior member of Congress who plays a leadership role on the Armed Services Committee embracing the Internet and not taking herself so seriously for 10 minutes. It is relevant, shows she understands pop culture, pokes fun at herself and humanizes her in a way that most Members of Congress struggle to do. Agree or disagree with her policies -- she made you laugh and made you see her as a person. Additionally, by giving credit to the digital natives in her office -- her summer interns -- she is learning to trust the younger generation on how to become relevant in a space they own -- social media.
Many corporate brands and politicians could learn a lot from this video -- give up a little control, don't take one's self too seriously, have a little fun and the next thing you know, you can win the Internet for a day too.