As Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker has taken to social media platforms like Twitter with gusto to interact with his Newark constituents on a daily basis; responding to questions, pointing people towards resources, and even listening to complaints.
Booker has also been using his social media presences to bring attention to his food stamp challenge, and famously used Twitter to help out in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In an incredible SXSWi session on Sunday, Mayor Booker discussed the virtues of social media and what he's learned about his constituents through his regular use of social platforms.
Here's just a handful of takeaways from this tremendously inspiring interactive session.
Social Media and its Crowdsourcing Power
Booker loves Twitter for crowdsourcing anything he can think of. Social Media is far more than a broadcast channel for the Mayor; he feels the real power in social lies in getting ideas from his followers. He'll often retweet questions from Newark residents or visitors, letting his 1.3 million plus followers crowdsource the answers for him. He offered an example of someone tweeting him Newark restaurant recommendations. His followers gladly offer up plenty of help to Newark visitors in need. In a matter of minutes, Booker notes he can help visitors and residents of Newark with just about any question or request. Harness the collective knowledge of your social media fanbase to solve problems quicker than ever.
Transparency is Now Expected
Booker says Twitter lets him be even more transparent with his constituents. He feels public servants are under even more pressure to be transparent than just about anyone. He was elected to serve, and by sharing anything and everything that's on his mind, any interests he has, and any causes he feels passionate about, Newark residents can really get to know their Mayor. Brands on social media would do well to keep transparency in mind at all times now, it's not simply welcomed, it's now expected.
Purpose Will Always Trump Popularity
Booker's session dealt mainly with purpose. Popularity means nothing without it. It's a great takeaway for brands looking to jump into social media as well. Popularity (likes, followers, YouTube views) are great but it's purpose that counts. Are you using social just to grow followings and push your message to more ears? That's fine for a start, but what else can you do? Booker's purpose is to make a difference, every day, every minute. Social media is a huge part of that philosophy as he uses his large social footprint to raise awareness about concerns that may not even fall directly under his jurisdiction. His duties don't stop at what's typically part of the Mayor's day-to-day responsibilities. Where he sees a need for awareness, he'll use social media to spread the word. "Position will not define us, purpose will."
Social Media and Real-Time Crisis Response
Booker discussed Hurricane Sandy and how valuable social media's real-time nature can be during an hour of need. Booker even famously reached out to nearby residents via Twitter to invite locals to his home, where power was functional. People were able to stay over at the Mayor's house while crews worked to restore power to Newark residents in the wake of the storm. Many organizations, such as the Red Cross have integrated social media into their crisis response efforts, even going so far as to set up a social media command center for that very purpose.