'Young Guns' Head To Facebook
September 26, 2011
The three House Republican leaders known as “The Young Guns” say their collaboration with Facebook will help send the message that Washington is listening and in the game, at a time when polls show most Americans view Congress with disgust.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is holding an online “Facebook Live” conversation with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
On Monday, the three leaders will be at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., where they’ll take questions in front of an audience of about 100 Facebook employees and guests – the same staging as Facebook used for similar conversations with President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
Advance questions can be posted here.
The hour-long event will be shown live here at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT.
The three leaders published a book last August called “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders.” They previewed their Facebook field trip during a recent joined conversation on the Speaker’s Balcony at the U.S. Capitol.
Cantor said that while the controversial issues attract attention in Washington, Facebook can “capture the attention of millions of people [on issues] that maybe the rest of the country wouldn’t care about. “
“If we can begin to create communities online that actually will help support the conversation and debate,” Cantor said, “really what we can do is increase the confidence that people actually can have in a representative government.”
McCarthy said the Internet brings “more transparency, more accountability” to government, allowing people to interact with leaders from their comfort of their homes. And he said the interaction will help the leaders “engage in policy … engage in solutions.”
Ryan called Facebook “a great, innovative product”: “This is a great way to reach Americans about how to fix this country’s problems. … It’s important to engage with people on every platform we can, and Facebook is a great one.”
Cantor explained his original curiosity about Facebook: “I wanted to see what was going on on my daughter’s wall. So I insisted, along with my wife, that we have either the access code, or she’s going to allow us in as a friend … So, that was really what led me to Facebook. And I think all of us want to go out there and really begin to engage in a national discussion.”
All three of the leaders have made innovative uses of new media: Cantor launched YouCut, which let web surfers vote on possible budget cuts; McCarthy launched a colorful “WhipCast” Blackberry app; and Ryan has been making web videos that dramatize the budget crisis and promote his solutions.
Cantor said: “We’ve all been very focused on trying to develop online communities that can help track us, and keep the public involved in what we’re doing, and keep us accountable to the people that put us here. And it is about trying to build confidence.”
Ryan added: “This is the flattening of the system, so that we are removing barriers that are separating people from their government so that it’s more interactive. … That is one of the greatest things we’ve got going right now.”
Asked about the difficulty of advancing the House Republicans’ “growth agenda,” McCarthy said: “We’ve got 500 million Facebook friends that help us move it through the Senate.”
President Barack Obama is also in Silicon Valley. On Sunday night, he headlined a fundraiser at Sandberg’s home, in Atherton, Calif.
And on Monday, a few hours before the “Young Guns” event, the president will hold a town hall of his own six miles away, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Obama’s event, at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT, is “Putting America Back to Work: LinkedIn Presents a Town Hall with President Obama.” Questions can be submitted here.
The Young Guns’ Facebook appearance comes on the same day that the social network is announcing a new small-business education program, offering webinars, case studies and tips in a partnership with the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The ways small businesses can use Facebook include notifying customers of sales and deals; customers’ “likes” that promote the business to their friends –digital-age word-of-mouth; and buying super-targeted advertising.
Sandberg, the COO, said in a statement: “Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and we believe that Facebook can be a tremendous tool to fuel their growth and success. Our goal is to give small businesses a boost by helping them find customers the best way possible – through recommendations from friends.”
The program includes a cross-country road show, coordinated with state and local chambers of commerce and regional NFIB offices, with experts meeting with local businesses to discuss how to get the best results from Facebook. Starting in January, Facebook will begin awarding ad credits of $50 each to 200,000 businesses across the country, a potential $10 million boost.
The Facebook announcement says: “Every business that redeems a $50 advertising credit will be entered into a contest designed to incentivize small businesses to use Facebook to acquire and retain customers. Businesses will compete with each other to get more registered check-ins and likes during the contest.”
Facebook’s Sarah Feinberg said: “In the current economy, the technology sector is one of the bright spots. But the good news about the growth and activity in the tech sector is that it is, by its nature, a growth and an innovation that spreads across the country and to other sectors.”