Dip a Toe in the Waters of Social Media, and Keep an Eye on the Lifeguard

At Charting the Course, MACo’s Winter Conference, county officials hear suggestions for using social media to engage their constituents, and learn about legal issues that may arise in this relatively novel form of communication.

Maryland’s Senator Will Smith speaks about the influence of social media on government and policy at the MACo Winter Conference.

Maryland Senator Will Smith, who moderated a panel discussion on social media at MACo’s Winter Conference in Cambridge, Maryland during the first week of the year. Smith started the discussion by sharing his experience and perspective, growing up with social media as a networking tool, and then later seeing its effects during policy debates in Annapolis.

Sandra Barry, Public Relations Coordinator for Caroline County Public Schools, who worked formerly with the Maryland Associations of Boards of Education reached out to those in the audience who are not familiar or facile with social networking. She counseled newcomers to join Twitter or Facebook, and then monitor activity for a period of time to learn the language of the medium before actively engaging.

Kelly Jarvis, Chief Revenue Officer & Digital Strategist for Enradius encouraged county officials to find out what is trending in their community, and use it to increase their engagements on social media.

“Ask your constituents what they need, using social networks, and take their input seriously.” — Kelly Jarvis, Chief Revenue Officer & Digital Strategist for Enradius

Government employers sit in a very different posture with regard to their employees’ use of social media as compared with private employers, because of the First Amendment’s right to free speech about government practices, attorney Kevin Karpinski explained.

Almost all of the questions from audience following the presentations revolved around legal issues and were handled deftly by Karpinksi, who has practical experience in this area of law.

For more information, see Hold That Tweet! Mastering the Art of 21st Century Communication.