Latta, whose Twitter feed is run through a joint effort between himself and his office staff, said his Twitter strategy is to focus more on policy than personality.
“I don’t think folks back home are too interested in what I’m doing personally,” he said. “We want to keep people informed as to what’s happening here that’s affecting them back home personally.”
Latta said that he believes social media tools help give constituents more access to his office, and more information faster about legislation that will affect lives back home in his district.
“I’m a firm believer that I’m supposed to be accessible at all times,” Latta said. “You do have an ability to stay connected through all of the social media sources that are out there.”
Social media use continues to grow on both sides of the aisle. Last May, Mother Jones reported that the GOP — perceived to be trailing in social media savvy following President Obama’s successful use of the medium during the 2008 campaign — beat the Democrats hands-down at using social media to connect to constituents and get out the message.
Since then, the GOP has seen significant gains as part of what Latta called “a big push” by House Republican leadership to encourage members to use social media. Since 2010, when the Republican majority took the House, Latta said there has been a “transformation” in the use of online tools by the GOP since 2010. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been a proponent of increased social media outreach.
Now, Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats, according to a September survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey found that 86 percent of GOP representatives tweet, compared to 75 percent of Democrats.
People use traditional media less and less, Latta noted. “We as a House have to catch up to society, with what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s very interesting to see how fast things are moving.”
Latta is co-chairman of the GOP New Media Caucus, which launched in 2008. The caucus helps train congressional staff and members in best practices for using social media. Caucus members have also promoted the Republican New Media Challenge, a competition designed to encourage social media use by House Republicans, which has taken place annually for the past two years.