Don't Outsource Your BS: Senator Kirk Watson at the Austin Social Media Breakfast

Today I had the great fortune of getting to interview one of the brighter bulbs at the Capitol, State Senator and former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson (here's a map of Senate District 14 which he represents), for the Austin Social Media Breakfast.  I presented at SMBAustin about a year ago (Why Your Pet is a Social Media Expert) but this time the organizers, Bryan Person (@BryanPerson) and Maura Thomas (@MNThomas), asked my alter ego (the mean one, not the tail-wagging one) to get involved.

When they first approached me about the event and asked me who would be a good elected official to interview about his or her use of social media, I knew immediately I wanted to interview Senator Watson.  As I explained this morning, Sen. Watson's journey into the social media sphere has been relatively recent (he signed up for Twitter in January 2010) but it's been an enthusiastic one from the get-go.  He organized the impressive Monopoly Buster social media contest last election cycle, writes his own blog/e-newsletter the Watson Wire, and has a large following on both his political and personal Facebook pages.  Not only does Senator Watson "get it" when it comes to the importance of social media as a communication tool, he also understands the arguably more important element of social media as a reflection of a politician's approach to governing.  (Ed. Note: Rick Perry, are you listening?  Oh, wait, you're not.  You're blocking me.)

One of the questions I asked the Senator was what parts of his social media strategy he chooses to outsource and how he manages the process in order to ensure the message doesn't get diluted or, worse yet, misrepresented.  The question is one that many organizations struggle with when facing the task of implementing a social media strategy, and when I spoke at the Texas Democratic Women's state convention last weekend on this subject, this was one of the topics we spent the most time on.

Without missing a beat, Watson, in an enviable turn of a phrase that I'm guessing a lot of us social media nerds will steal, said "I don't outsource my BS."  His implication was clear:  when it comes to building a personal brand and appearance online, politicians all too often think that their 19 year-old intern can just send out tweets about how beautiful the American flag looks waving in the wind and become the next Barack Obama.  The audience immediately latched onto this gem, making it one of the most re-tweeted quotes of the day.  While the quote was humorous and candid, what speaks even more was the reaction of the people in the room -- we are all well aware of who outsources whose BS, we aren't stupid, and we see through it.  In other words:  Your BS isn't fooling anyone.

I've curated some of my favorite tweets from the event below -- you can catch up on all of them at the #SMBAustin hashtag here.   Thanks very much to Senator Watson for coming out and talking with us.

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Rachel Farris

Senator Kirk Watson - Austin Social Media Breakfast

Mar 4, 2011 at 11:56 pm
Selected tweets/quotes from Austin Social Media Breakfast featuring Texas State Senator Kirk Watson.
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"I don't outsource my BS." @kirkpwatson #smbaustin
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm
#SMBAustin @KirkPWatson: "Follow other thinkers whether you agree with them or not to get a broader view of the world."
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm
RT @SMBAustin: #SMBAustin @KirkPWatson: I was able to increase my opt-in email list by 40% using social media. #socialmediaroi
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm
"If you don't want it in a headline, don't put it on twitter" @kirkpwatson #smbaustin
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm
#SMBAustin @KirkPWatson: Technology is moving quickly and (policy) needs to catch up (on what is appropriate).
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm
#SMBAustin @KirkPWatson: We may see some discussion this session about officials tweeting during session and meetings.
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm
#SMBAustin @KirkPWatson: Twitter brings "a lot more heads into the room" and increases attention to detail during testimonies.
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm
Gr8 question to @kirkpwatson "access to social media is for the privileged: ppl w/ phones, Internet, etc. How do u create access? #smbaustin
Mar 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm
From @kirkpwatson #smbaustin access with new technology is decades old problem-Saw similar issue with Internet-and put access In libraries
Mar 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm
Senator @KirkPWatson not afraid to speak his mind. Accountability, consistency, & transparency leads to authenticity & trust. #smbaustin
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm
Every time I see @KirkPWatson in public, he's winning people over with his charm and wit. #SMBAustin
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm
great #smbaustin this morning - @kirkpwatson has renewed my interest in local politics
Mar 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm
@kirkpwatson is #winning the social media communication game #smbaustin
Mar 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm


1 Response to "Don't Outsource Your BS: Senator Kirk Watson at the Austin Social Media Breakfast"

  • Alison Says:

    That was great. I wish I could have been there. I always have enjoyed Senator Watson. Thanks for the follow up.