Mayor chips away at answering Qs to first live Twitter chat

Mayor Jim Kenney broke the social media mold recently with his #AskKenney live Twitter chat session.

He opened the floodgates for Philadelphians to ask him anything – no holds barred.

In January, Kenney created the city’s first-ever digital director, responsible for managing the social media accounts of the mayor, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for a salary of $95,000 a year.

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“The mayor plans to have a Twitter chat every month, as part of the larger #AskKenney series,” Stephanie Waters, the mayor’s digital director, wrote in an e-mail.

“I oversee the main Philadelphia accounts and the mayor’s accounts, while also working to update website content and act as a resource for all the other departments. Going forward, I will start to work more closely with other departments to help them update their department websites and follow best practices for social media accounts.”

Waters said Kenney got more than 200 questions in the days leading up to the #AskKenney Twitter session and during the hour allotted on his schedule for the chat. And the questions haven’t subsided.

According to TrendsMap, which follows real-time local Twitter trends, the hashtag was trending in Philadelphia over the weekend.

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Waters admitted the mayor and his limited communications staff got fairly inundated with questions during the one-hour time set aside for the chat. They were able to respond to 19 in that time frame.

“No question – it’s one of my favorite parts of the gig, and I know the mayor enjoys getting to see the range of concerns – from the, ‘is a hot dog a sandwich?’ question, which we actually answered in one of our first Twitter chats – to the more serious, like, ‘what can we actually do to reduce gun violence with the lack of action on policy?’” said Waters.

All the Tweets are available on Kenney’s @PhillyMayor timeline, said Waters.

“Twitter has always been a way for me to engaged with constituents informally,” said Kenney.

“These chats increase that accessibility even further, and I’ve really enjoyed them.”

Members of Kenney’s communications staff have said he plans to continue this kind of Twitter chat session on a monthly basis, “as part of an ongoing effort to increase government accessibility.”

The mayor is expected to also answer constituent questions each month on 900 AM WURD, the city’s government access Channel 64 and in other forms of media.

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