Social Media Expands National and International Government Influence Online
Peter Panda

Last week, I and members of the Elasticity team, packed up our bags and headed north to Washington DC to spend some time in our nation’s capitol. Yes, the required walk to the White House to take a few photos took place, and the visit to Capitol Hill (interspersed with meetings on the Hill to discuss immigration reform) and various museums to play the tourist were certainly fitted into my agenda. And a long walk from our hotel up Embassy Row, past the outposts of many nations, is always an iconic experience for me that I made sure to do on my way to a meeting with the UK Trade and Investment team at the British Embassy to discuss the growth and opportunity in the St. Louis region.

But the real reason for our trip to DC was to spend some time talking social media and how social media done right can amplify the connection between governments and the people they are serving and the people they are reaching out to.

Mark Sutherland and the Scottish Affairs Team at the British Embassy in Washington DC

Scottish Affairs Manager Shannon Hall, Elasticity’s Mark Sutherland, Scottish Affairs Counsellor Donnie Jack and Scottish Affairs Attache Darren Burgess.

First with my fellow Scots and then with my fellow Americans. Yes, I am a strange mix. I’m a Scot, and a Brit, and an adopted Yank. Talk about a personality disorder. But this eclectic mix of national identities, allows me to work well with both nations. And that’s what we did.

First, an in-depth session to discuss social media with the Scottish Affairs team at the British Embassy. And, I must say, Scotland is in good hands in the US and Canada with that team. What a conversation! And what an honor for this Scot to have the opportunity work with the team as they represent Scotland across the United States and Canada.

Then, a Capitol Hill session with almost 40 different Congressional offices, again on social media. This one was in partnership with one of our favorite clients, CafePress, and with the support of our good friend Chris Sommers, a fantastic entrepreneur who runs the District of Pi restaurant in DC and numerous restaurants in St. Louis, and is the founder of the online Twitter donation platform,

Chris Moody with Yahoo! Politics, Chris Good with ABC Politics, and Warren Rojas with Roll Call at the Elasticity Congressional Social Media Training in Washington DC

Chris Moody with Yahoo! Politics, Chris Good with ABC Politics, and Warren Rojas with Roll Call.

We were also joined by Chris Moody of Yahoo! Politics, Chris Good of ABC Politics and Warren Rojas of Roll Call to share their insights on media usage of social media as it relates to politics.

At the training, we covered both the basics of social media and the nuances that those in elected office face everyday.

We talked about:

  • The need for honesty and transparency
  • The benefits of being human online
  • How to react
  • How to engage
  • What kinds of content work best for interactions
  • The value of listening
  • The necessity of planning
  • And much, much more.


The attendees were engaged, and the conversations during the training, and afterwards, were impressive.

You can view the PowerPoint from the Congressional social media presentation on the Elasticity website.

I can honestly say, it was an incredible trip. We’ve done these trainings and had similar conversations before, but this was the first time doing so in Washington. A most valuable time was seemingly had by all involved, and we certainly plan on doing more of these in the DC area, and continuing to offer them elsewhere, in the future.

So until next time, as we say in Scotland, Sláinte.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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