Rock the Vote Takes to Social Media to Register Voters

by politicalthing

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on June 20th, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Last week Mashable published a piece on Rock the Vote’s use of t-shirts emblazoned with QR codes as part of their youth voter registration drive. The shirts turn the individual wearing them into a registration hot spot. To help spread the word Rock the Vote has created a mini-site and is encouraging people to use their Twitter hashtag “#scanthevote”.

I decided to take a look at the social data to see how the campaign did and found that it generated over a thousand tweets in it’s first 24 hours and some celebrity love.

What is Rock the Vote?

Rock the Vote is non-profit organization that has sought to engage and build the political power of young people. Founded in Los Angeles in 1990, Rock the Vote uses music, popular culture, grassroots organizing and new technologies to register youth to vote in American elections.

Since it’s founded Rock the Vote has been a strong advocate for the empowerment of youth in the political system and has achieved some significant milestones.

  • In 1992 election poll results show that youth turnout was up 20% compared to the 1988 presidential election, ending 20 years of declining youth participation.
  • In 1996 Rock the Vote created a national telephone voter registration system, 1-800-REGISTER, later renamed to 1-800-ROCK VOTE.
  • In 2008, the organization registered 2.5 million voters during the presidential election.

#ScanToVote: The Social Data

In the first 24 hours Rock the Vote’s hastag “#scantovote” generated 1,232 mentions on Twitter. Usage of the hashtag saw a steep drop afterwards and has since begun to trail off.

During that 24 hour period the “#scantovote” hashtag got some love from a number of celebrity tweeters, including Christina Aguilera, Maroon5, Neon Trees, Def Jam Records, Mercury Records, and Island Records.

As Rock the Vote kicks into high gear I expect this hashtag will continue to grow in volume. Right now it highlights the usefulness of social media monitoring to keep an eye on the buzz lifecycle. Watching for peaks and valleys in social buzz can help inform decisions related to an organization’s content calendar.