Twitter: A Key Player in the #FourthBranch
The #FourthBranch is about reasserting the People as a part of the Government through social media technologies. You can read more about the #FourthBranch in the initial post Imagining a Fourth Branch of Government.
Since writing that post, I have come to the conclusion that a “Fourth Branch” would not be about a single technology and it would not be about official powers or constitutional amendments.
The #FourthBranch is about three things:
- Identify the most effective communication technologies.
- Use these technologies to create a better relationship between the People and the Government.
- Expand the People/Government relationship by enhancing the best communication technologies.
One of the major social media technologies being used to create a better relationship between the Government and the People is Twitter.
Twitter is important to the #FourthBranch because it is the most effective way for an elected leader to create a meaningful relationship with their constituency.
Every Government Leader Needs to Tweet
Twitter is without a doubt the best way for any leader to connect with their followers. Leaders can send out 140-character messages that contain thoughts, ideas, questions, announcements and links to content on the web. Followers can then consume these messages, reply with feedback, and interact with other followers – all in real-time. When used effectively, Twitter creates an unprecedented level of connection and communication between leaders and followers.
Twitter is so effective for leaders that I have to question the commitment of any major government leader (with the resources of a staff) that does not utilize it in some way. That being said, the Twitterverse can be intimidating to those that are not completely comfortable with internet technology.
As younger and more internet-savvy leaders are being elected, more and more communication between the People and the Government is happening on Twitter.
Every Citizen Should Be on Twitter
Every elected leader should have an active Twitter account, but their presence on Twitter is only valuable if their constituency follows and interacts with them.
The biggest issue holding Twitter back from becoming an important part of our Government is the fact that it is a social network and therefore seen as a wastebasket of useless information. To do some degree this is true, but Twitter is also a place where important people, decisions makers, experts, and journalists are sharing information in the most convenient manner.
If you think Twitter has too much garbage to sift to, remember that you only see the tweets from the users you follow. A million teenage girls could be talking about Justin Bieber’s new haircut, but you don’t have to read any of it unless you are following them. Instead, you could be following your local, state, and federal representatives to stay informed about their projects and decisions.
You can get a lot out of Twitter just by following people, but the real magic happens when you interact with the people you follow. If you have something to say to a leader, you can “mention” them in a tweet. Smart leaders check their “mentions” often to see what people are saying about them. If a leader likes your comment, they may “retweet” it to their followers or respond directly back to you.
It can be very exciting when these interactions are happening in real-time. One second you are tweeting to a handful of family and friends and the next second your conversation is being shared with 100,000 followers. It happens everyday on Twitter.
Putting aside the excitement of speaking to thousands of people, Twitter is simply a great way to consume content on the Internet. I recommend that you only follow the people you really care about. If you are following 30-50 people, you can stay on top of their tweets by checking Twitter a few times each day. If you are following more than that, it becomes difficult (or impossible) to stay on top of what everyone is saying.
I encourage you to give Twitter a try (or a second try). Focus on using Twitter to stay up to date on what you favorite public figures are doing and it will be a valuable resource to you.
Twitter Connects Us
Twitter is a communication technology that truly connects people that never had a chance of connecting in the past. I have had real interactions with field-leading scientists (@lmlodinow, @RudyTanzi), a famous author and spiritual leader (@DeepakChopra), a futurist, and mind expanding filmmaker (@jason_silva).
Twitter not only made these exchanges possible, it made them easy.
With enough participation from government leaders and citizens, Twitter helps the Government serve the People. #FourthBranch.