By Greg Steinbrecher
Greetings from the social media desk as I, the lead social media manager for Better Angels, step out from behind the pixelated curtain to write a quick dispatch. With the Better Angels State of the Union coming up (this Thursday!), and with most everyone’s attention directed towards preparing for that, John thought it might be interesting for me to write something up so that people can learn about what I do, and how I think my job might change and grow as time goes on.
When I post something on BA’s Facebook or Twitter, I post it as “Better Angels.” That’s status quo — when, say, Taco Bell posts to social media it’s “Taco Bell’s” posting and not Jeffrey the social media intern’s. That way there’s continuity when Jeffrey goes off to grad school and the new intern, Tiffany, takes his place; it also allows people to feel like they’re engaging with the entity or business itself. Everyone likes Taco Bell. No one cares about Jeffrey or Tiffany.
Issues arise with me posting as Better Angels, however, when I make a mistake. I’ve got my own biases and precognitive commitments, and there have been times when I’ve posted something that I thought was innocuous or interesting, but which our social media followers have felt isn’t “Better Angels material.” I love Better Angels, I believe in what it’s doing, and I respect the people who have worked so hard to build it into what it is. So when something like this happens and I see people getting mad at “Better Angels” as an organization for a mistake only I made, I think, “Oh no no no! Better Angels is still great. I’m the schmo! Be angry with me!”
Perhaps I’m too sensitive. I’ve heard that elected representatives are much more receptive to phone calls and written letters from their constituents than to other forms of communication like emails and social media engagement. That’s always seemed like an undue amount of influence for the few people who write letters and call their representatives to wield, but after I’ve been doing social media, I get it. I can see how many people engage with our posts. If two thousand see it, but only three comment on it, and their comments are negative, I feel like I’ve done something counterproductive. Maybe the 99% of people who saw the post and moved on with their day didn’t care, or were fine with it. But those 1% are persuasive, man.
Which leads me to some of the ways I’d like to see the Better Angels social media presence evolve. I’d love to see more engagement and comments on our Facebook and Twitter posts. This a big-tent, grassroots organization, so when one of our writers puts an opinion out in the world, I’d like to see more people using that as a platform to begin a dialogue. Social media has an (earned) reputation for bringing out the worst in people, and I think those who follow Better Angels have an opportunity to model to the world how to sustain a healthy online dialogue. Another thing- I don’t think we’ve found a compelling way to have a presence on Instagram yet. There’s a lot of potential there that we could tap into, and I think we will as we start to produce more of our own content, but right now that’s an underutilized resource.
The best parts of my job are collaborating with passionate and intelligent leaders like John, Luke, and Ciaran on a daily basis (usually to discuss whether an article from an outside source is “Better Angels material,”) and reading insightful pieces from a range of political perspectives. As institutions become increasingly niche, it’s refreshing to have an organization like Braver Angels provide an outlet for people to express diverse viewpoints while pledging to remain respectful of those they disagree with. That’s a unique thing in this day and age, and I’m proud to play my own small part in encouraging it and bringing it to the world. I believe in our organization’s ability to bring about change. Hopefully, as I get better at my job, and with a little help from our followers (liking and sharing really does make a huge difference,) our footprint and visibility will continue to grow.
Greg Steinbrecher (@GregSteinbreche) is the Lead Social Media Manager for Better Angels. He’s an actor living in Los Angeles, where in his free time he indulges his interests in history, baseball, jazz, political philosophy and podcasts about all those things and more.