President-elect candidates for the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association are using Facebook to get the word out about their campaigns. The Bar and TYLA changed their election rules in 2011 to explicitly permit candidates to campaign with social media.
The Bar’s election rules say president-elect candidates may only use Facebook to campaign. TYLA’s rules don’t specify any social-media platform; Piazza says she’s only using Facebook, while Sharma says she also uses LinkedIn and Google+, but she only posts updates on Facebook.
Candidates have posted campaign-brochure information, campaign announcements, photos and messages thanking groups that host campaign stops. Bolden, Piazza and Sharma say they’re happy with feedback from Facebook users who “like” their posts and leave comments. Tatum, a San Antonio solo, could not be reached for comment before deadline.
Bolden, shareholder in Mahomes Bolden in Dallas, notes the Bar’s election rules don’t define exactly how candidates can campaign with Facebook. He says he and Tatum worked with the Bar’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee on one detail: whether a candidate can campaign with a Facebook profile or a Facebook page. According to Facebook’s help center, a profile is for an individual, while a page is for a business, organization or celebrity “to maintain a professional presence on Facebook.” Whoever creates a Facebook page becomes its primary “administrator.” Bolden campaigns with his personal Facebook profile, whereas Tatum campaigns with a Facebook page. Bolden says the subcommittee decided to permit both methods.
Terry Tottenham, co-chairman of the Bar’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee, says, “Basically, we’ve approved Facebook . . . and whatever has been preapproved can be used.”
Bolden says using Facebook has “created another level of connectivity with lawyers” and with the general public.
Piazza, an associate with Koons Fuller Vanden Eykel & Robertson in Plano, says she thinks “social media is a huge way of getting information to the community,” and it’s a “plus” to distribute information about candidates, and Bar and TYLA projects.
Sharma, a staff attorney at the 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana, says she hopes candidates’ Facebook pages get more publicity in the future, adding, “I think it will really take off next year.”
-- Angela Morris