Handing Over @MassGovernor
January 7, 2015
January 7, 2015
When Governor Increase Sumner took the first “lone walk” back in 1799, he concerned himself with handing the keys of the Massachusetts State House to the man that would follow him. As Governor Deval Patrick takes this ceremonial walk signaling his return to the private citizenry, he has another issue to concern himself with: handing over the passwords to the governor’s social media handles.
In Massachusetts, the office of the governor has its own Twitter handle: @MassGovernor. The governor’s office also has a YouTube account and Flickr feed. (There is not a corresponding Facebook page, oddly.) The State House News Service (via MassLive) recently took a look into the logistics of the social media handoff between Patrick and Baker.
In my home state of Rhode Island, current practice is to let the Governor tweet under his or her own handle. Former Governor Lincoln Chafee tweeted under his own name. It appears newly inaugurated Governor Gina Raimondo will tweet using her handle @GinaforRI.
Given that social media is so new (Patrick is the first Massachusetts governor to have a Twitter handle, since the network launched just four months after his 2007 inauguration) and campaign finance regulations so esoteric, I believe it’s better to have a handle for the office itself.
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance prohibits paid public employees from using state time and resources for campaign activities. While an elected official’s messaging and tone should be evident in social posts, that line can blur. Sure, you can offer proof that a campaign staffer sent or scheduled a certain message. But for less social media savvy constituents, it could lend a sense of impropriety. It’s easier to separate church and state by keeping campaign chatter to a private handle away from state employees. Patrick has his own handle, managed by his PAC team. Baker also has his own handle which, during the campaign, he was actively involved with personally.
Once Baker has swapped out the avatars on the Governor’s existing social media accounts, it will be interesting to see how his social media strategy shifts from the previous administration.