CEDAR RAPIDS — If he had known someone was keeping score, state Sen. Rob Hogg says he might have tried harder.
Still, the Cedar Rapids Democratic wasn’t surprised to learn that he’s the most active Iowa legislator on Twitter and Facebook, according to Quorum, a Washington-based public affairs software company that tracked the social media posting of lawmakers in 50 states since the beginning of the year.
Hogg, who was elected to the Iowa House in 2002 and the Senate in 2006, has posted to his Twitter and Facebook accounts 3,994 times between Jan. 1 and Aug. 25, Quorum said.
“That sounds about right,” Hogg said.
He finds social media a useful tool for communicating with not only his southeast Cedar Rapids constituents, but Iowans in general. Hogg doesn’t post as often about legislation as he does about the coronavirus pandemic, the destruction of existing prairie land near his Otis Road home for a rail car storage yard and, more recently, about the upcoming United Nations Climate Change conference beginning Thursday.
“Social media, I think, can be useful,” said Hogg, who is not seeking re-election in 2022. “The trick is for people not to get dragged down in it and forget about other things.”
He gets frequent retweets and responses to his sometimes lengthy threads on COVID-19 — daily numbers for deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations. The feedback ranges from those who disagree or deny COVID-19 realities to people who “raise a factual issue or some something that requires me to look more deeply.”
“If somebody just says ‘You’re an idiot,’ well, that’s not very helpful,” Hogg said. “But if somebody says, ‘Oh, I think you’re ignoring this fact,’ then you know, that’s interesting and I make sure to go check it out.”
One thing he has been doing frequently this year is sharing links to news media reporting on COVID-19.
“I think one of the problems is social media can be helpful but it’s no substitute for what regular journalists do,” he explained, adding that it concerns him that some people use social media to circumvent the news media.
Although Hogg has been recognized as the most active Iowa legislator on social media, he isn’t as prolific as some colleagues in other states. His 1,444 Facebook post this year compares with 3,336 posts by Florida Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart. And Hogg’s 2,550 posts on Twitter don’t come close to Arizona Republican state Sen. David Livingston’s 20,928 tweets — 89 a day.
Hogg isn’t looking to trend as much as share information he thinks is relevant.
Still, he added, “It’s an honor to be No. 1 in something.”