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Doesn’t changing the name LAY involve bit of expen Obviously, the new name fits better, but still. 4:40 PM Apr 30th RAILROAD COMMISSIONER MICHAEL L. WILLIAMS The Legislative Budget Board estimates the cost to be about $109K. 9:31 PM Apr 30th that is very important to my representative, and that they voted for or against it because of . This is not a criticism; elected officials get tons of letters like mine and they can’t help being selective about which constituents they personally answer. When they do personally answer a letter or question or query, though, they get down to business. Just purely on a cost-benefit level, think what Williams’ direct reply meant. How much time and effort would it have taken snowed_in to find out how much it was going to cost to change the Railroad Commission’s name? More, typically, than would be practical for the average concerned constituent. Williams reduced the cost of finding out that information to almost zero. In doing so, he might very well have turned a constituent into a supporter or a supporter into a volunteer for his Senate campaign. Williams approaches his status updates very differently from Perry. “The world has changed:’ the commissioner says. “We used to be able to get away with shouting at voters, having a one-way conversation via press release. Now voters want to have a conversation with you, and we have to go where they are. We have to use every communication tool that’s available. It isn’t enough for us to stand on the courthouse steps and scream, because voters won’t listen.” With social media still young, of course, the number of voters using it remains relatively modest. Williams might be a leader among Texas GOP social media usershe also deploys Facebook, among other toolsbut the people who follow him online are a subset of a subset of a subset: They’re politically engaged, likely to be conservative, use Twitter, use Twitter’s conversation function, and they know who Michael L. Williams iseither by virtue of living in Texas or because they’re interested in national Republican up-and-comers. Unless his Senate campaign catches fire, that won’t describe a whole lot of folks. Social media, Glazer notes, “operates somewhere in between communicating to a specific universe and mass communication. It is always micro-targeted and never mass-targeted.” Citing the most famous and effective political practitioner of social media, Glazer notes that President Barack Obama had “somewhere like 16 million” people on his e-mail list during the 2008 campaign. Of that 16 million, about one-fourth-4 millionfollowed Obama on Facebook groups. About 800,000 followed his campaign’s tweets, “so he was only talking to 2 percent of his e-mail list on Twitter. Even if such an effort is incredibly successful, you’re really only ever talking to a tiny percentage of the people that will eventually vote for you. “The flipside,” Glazer continues, “is that if you can take percent of your e-mail readers and turn them into field organizers, that’s a game-changer. If you can turn 1 percent of your Facebook supporters into donors, that’s a lot of money.” Enough, for sure, to give a tech-savvy candidate an edge in a close race. Particularly for local candidates, Glazer says, “This technology is incredibly well-suited to helping people get re-elected when they were initially elected by a razor-thin margin.” Williams’ 2010 Senate campaign is counting on making that formula work statewide. “If the candidate knows who they are and can make a compelling case for why voters should elect JUNE 12, 2009 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15