It thoroughly delights me to see more and more people using Social networks to find and create synergy with like-minded people. I especially love it when organizations cover the topic of Social Media at their yearly conventions. Today I had the privilege of attending one of the sessions at the 2010 National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Convention in Denver, Colorado. The session was called “Governance Session-Utilizing Social Media for Constituency Outreach” and had Bobby Clark and Ian Inaba as the guest speakers. Twitter, in particular, is a social network that elected officials are finding to be a handy way to connect and interact with their constituency, according to NALEO guest speaker Bobby Clark (and I agree). According to his biography, Bobby Clark “helped launch the groundbreaking Internet effort for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in January of 2003, and helped grow an email network of 750,000 and raise more than $50 million in one year.” He’s been a social media consultant since 2004; helped organize ProgressNow in Colorado and helped develop ideas and processes that were used in successfully building the online grassroots effort to elect Barack Obama via the MyBarackObama.com campaign. In his presentation to a full room of NALEO conference attendees, Mr. Clark showed two examples of elected officials who are using Twitter. Cory Bo0ker, (@CoryBooker) Mayor of Newark, NJ, was cited as a great example of an elected official successfully using Twitter to communicate with people and be transparent in his leadership as he leads the city of Newark. Mayor Booker tweets a lot but that’s good. Clear communication is critical when you’re trying to organize people. I personally exchanged tweets with Mayor Cory Booker, so I know he really is listening to his followers. He has conversations, which are important to have because people need to feel that their government is listening to them and taking action on what’s said. Sometimes, Mayor Booker is inspirational and thought-provoking with his tweets: Unfortunately, one elected official, who happens to be in Colorado, did more harm than good to himself by using Twitter incorrectly…very incorrectly: Senator Dave Schutheis (@sen_schutheis). Senator Schutheis has a Twitter account but he’s elected to keep it private by blocking access, which means only people he chooses to allow can read his tweets. But Senator Schutheis didn’t realize that people pose to get access and that’s what a blogger did, in order to follow the senator’s tweets. (The blogger was not named but here’s an article in HuffPost about it.) Senator Schutheis tweeted this tweet in 2009: “Don’t for a second think Obama wants what is best for U.S. He is flying the U.S. plane right into the ground at full speed. Let’s roll.” The lesson here, pointed out Bobby Clark, was that even though the Senator thought he was protecting his tweets by keeping them viewable only to people he allowed to be followers, he should have remembered that anything you say online should be considered “public” and not “private” and if you’re not careful, your words can come back to haunt you, especially if Keith Olberman hears about it. Watch a video of Keith Olberman’s “World’s Worst.” (See this article by The Denver Post, for more about that infamous tweet and the consequences Senator Schutheis suffered for tweeting it. ) Mr. Clark successfully got many people in the room today at the NALEO conference thinking about using Twitter to get the word out to the people who elected them. Next post: I’ll write about what Ian Inaba, the co-presenter at the NALEO session on social media, had to say about organizing initiatives online. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Do you follow elected officials in Twitter or other social media? How do you think elected officials could use social media to help govern and lead?