One Politician Using Social Media the Right Way: Mayor Dave Norris

Dave NorrisLest anyone get the impression that all politicians are complete dopes about using social media,( *cough* Weiner *cough*) I’d like to point out one guy who really gets it, and always uses social media wisely.

Dave Norris is the mayor of Charlottesville. I’ll admit to total bias here because I love Charlottesville and Dave is a personal friend. Nevertheless, I think most who know him will agree that Dave does a spectacular job engaging with the community online.

Dave has neatly set parameters around his personal life and decided exactly where he will focus his engagement efforts online. Dave doesn’t use Twitter — rather, he devotes energy to Facebook. This is smart because there are more Facebook users than Twitter users and Twitter users are, by and large, also Facebook fans. (By the way, I asked Dave if it was OK with him that I write this post and feature his use of Facebook. He gave me the OK.)

Dave uses his personal profile more than the page he set up for campaign purposes. A popular guy, Dave has more than 1,400 friends — just on Facebook. I’m certain it’s hundreds more in real life. (Side note: I find it sort of amusing that Dave and I have 132 friends in common. We should never co-host a party; it would be huge.)

Dave uses Facebook to give an ongoing report on the life of a city mayor. Updates, often uploaded from his phone, include photos of those he’s meeting with, city events, and sometimes, his family members.

Dave is responsive, engaging in conversation with people commenting on his profile. He interacts with the hundreds of friends he has by commenting on their posts as well. He helps support local businesses by making sure he clicks the like button when that business establishes a Facebook page. Savvy enough to keep up with Facebook changes, Dave also makes sure to tag Charlottesville businesses when posting an update that includes them, so the post shows up on their page as well.

He’s an ambassador, online and off, and has a community grateful to be allowed to follow him in his daily work, including a recent trip to Charlottesville’s sister city, Winneba, Ghana. He’s mastered the art of being transparent and personal enough without ever crossing the line into what should be private.

I’m impressed with that — it’s not an easy skill to master and to keep in balance. We’ve seen so many lose control of that ability, that it’s time to appreciate those who do it well.

I’m featuring Dave primarily because of his online engagement, but Dave definitely shows up in person, whether it’s a Snoop Dogg concert (video evidence: Dave meets Snoop at 2:13)¬†or in support of candidates for city council.

Spend any time in Charlottesville out and among its people and you will meet our mayor.

I think it’s really important for politicians to not only have this really clear definition of the difference between personal and private, but also to have an extremely good sense of humor. A politician who can’t laugh at themselves is not one I want to support. My favorite incidence of this, blogged about by my friend Steve Whitaker came during the whole Weiner/weiner scandal, of course.

Politicians at any level can learn a lot by watching Mayor Dave Norris.

He’s genuine, funny, opinionated, smart and highly engaged in his community.

What else could you really want in a politician?

Thank goodness there’s someone out there doing this right, and I’m just lucky enough that he’s the mayor of MY town.