Councilman Pays $28,800 for Tweets

A Philadelphia councilman needs help with that transparent, authentic social media voice on Twitter, so he hired a firm to tweet for him. Jim Kenney hired ChatterBlast to help with his social media strategy, including monitoring his Facebook and Twitter accounts and writing posts.

Kenney explains why he needs this help: 

"I, at 53 years old, do not have that facility. So I need consultant advice to communicate with a group of folks who are not necessarily in my age group."

In addition to hiring ChatterBlast, Kenney has hired an outside communications consultant, Martin O'Rourke. In an embarrassing admission, O'Rourke described his own limitations:

"I have no clue how to tweet; I still don't understand the mechanics of it. It's a thing of the future."

ChatterBlast promotes its services to government officials in this way: 

"Interactive online communities represent a whole new arena of vocal constituents. ChatterBlast uses social media networks, targeted advertising and digital marketing to deliver real-time, personalized and high-impact messages while building a community of supporters.  We can listen to what is being said about you or your organization in real-time, faster and more accurately then pollsters. More importantly, we can engage and address the naysayers while promoting and rewarding positive feedback. 

"If you are an agency or elected official, social media can be used to keep in touch with your constituents and address issues before they become a crisis. If you are running for office, social media provides a new untapped fundraising channel.  Maintaining an active and identifiable base can be managed before, during, and after your campaign.  We can even help secure your votes before campaign time begins."

Discussion Starters:

  • What are the ethical considerations in this situation? 
  • Where do you see the line between how an outside firm helps a person or a company develop and implement a social media strategy and how that firm implements the strategy?
  • Under what, if any, circumstances should an individual hire an outside firm to tweet on his or her behalf?