News. Politics. Social Media.

Category: Social Media.

3 Ideas to Help Turn Your ‘Local Government’ into ‘Social Government’

One of my favorite television characters of all time is Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks & Rec. A lot of people love Ron Swanson and for different reasons.

To most Ron Swanson is loved for being a ‘man’s man’ – he’s an expert whittler, a steak enthusiast, the creator of the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.

For those of us who have worked in public service Ron Swanson has been our boss, or at the very least a reasonable likeness. Ron Swanson is a middle-aged, middle manager in the local government of Pawnee, Indiana – he is averse to rocking the boat, doing any work, and has a general distaste for the public and local government.

Ron Swanson would not approve of the ideas in this blog. You should read it anyway!

A Participatory Medium for Participatory Government

Social media is a participatory medium. People tend to share what’s happening to them in real time; things that made them laugh, or maybe something that upset them.  People discuss everything on social media including their local government, and they expect that they will be heard.

How are local governments supposed to do that? Here are some foundational pieces you can start with.

Social Media Monitoring

People are talking about your local government and its services but how do you find these conversations? The first thing you need to do is select a ‘social media monitoring’ platform that will search the social web for targeted keywords. This will make sense of the chaos as the platform will only return conversations on social media that match your desired search criteria.

Whether you’re looking for citizen feedback on a proposed ordinance or you’re looking for citizens talking about municipal services, a social media monitoring platform will make that task more efficient and manageable.

Community Management

Someone will need to be responsible for monitoring social media, and depending on the size of your city you may want a team of people watching for these conversations. This group of people is often referred to in the social media industry as a “community team.”

Their function is to be the human(s) behind the brand. They seek to provide customer service, answer questions, and sometimes act as a gateway for information that needs to be answered by someone else in the organization.

A ‘community team’ makes your social media strategy flexibility to be both proactive and responsive!

Share, Share, Share

Governments produce a lot of reports on local issues. They are typically available for free in print format or online, but not always easy to obtain or find. Chances are your government department has boxes of reports in storage. If you ran a report on how often your reports are accessed online would you see that few people click on those reports?

Share them on social! Use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to share links to your reports and increase visibility. It’s much easier for someone to follow your department and click on a link than it is to go hunting on your website, or make time to go down to City Hall.

Turning ‘Local Government’ into ‘Social Government’

Jumping into social is a big deal. It requires a lot of forethought and a strategy to implement. The result may well lead to increased citizen engagement, so give it go!
This blog was originally authored by me and published here.


‘Mitt’s VP’ ties social apps to Voter I.D.

Wednesday morning the Obama and Romney campaigns each announced the release of their mobile apps. The Obama campaign released an app that will be tied directly to helping them achieve campaign objectives. The Romney campaign released an app that will give their supporters a heads up when the GOP candidate has chosen to be his vice presidential nominee.

In an op-ed Wednesday Mashable asked where was the innovation when the Romney campaign announced their mobile app ‘Mitt’s VP’. It’s a fair question but less important then the voter I.D. data it will bring the campaign.

The evolution of voter I.D.: Social apps and content marketing.

A candidate’s pick to be the vice presidential nominee is one of the most speculated topics in any presidential election cycle. It’s an important decision, not only because the pick becomes the second name on the presidential succession list, but because the vice presidential candidate balances a party’s ticket in a lot of ways and galvanizes supporters. The announcement of the vice presidential nominee helps create a lot of online, print, and television content.

Of course, this approach has been done before. In 2008, the Obama campaign used a similar tactic by offering to inform their supporters of the Democratic vice-presidential nominee before anyone else. Using their e-mail list and mobile text messages, the Obama campaign saw their voter I.D. lists grow “15 fold” between announcing the idea on August 10th and announcing their nominee for vice president on August 22nd , according to David Plouffe.

This time around it’s the Republicans who have the VEEP hook and they’re using it to their advantage. The rise of the “app” is a new development in presidential politics but that’s about all that’s new here. Is it innovative? Not really, but it is effective and that’s good enough.

Tying social media to business objectives:

In an era when technology and social media enthusiasts are constantly looking for the next big thing it’s worth remembering that all industries – even politics – operate on a number of ‘fundamentals’. Political parties and political candidates live and die by the volume and accuracy of their voter I.D. data. Any social strategy in politics has to meet that need.

This is the simple genius of the “Mitt’s VP” app: it combines a major content hook while generating a wealth of data to be used for campaign communications, soliciting donations, and getting out the vote purposes.

Effective social media strategy is always tied to business objectives. It doesn’t always have to be innovative but it absolutely must be effective.

Interested in more? If you want to read more about using social media for voter I.D. have a look at: “Identifying Voters and Moving Them Through Your Social Media Funnel”.

Social Media Monitoring Can Inform Political Parties What To Poll For

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

On Wednesday, I looked at the question, “Can social media be used for political polling?” In the end, my answer was no. The most convincing evidence I found against its use was in the scientific methodology pollsters use to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the results.

I briefly discussed some industry-specific reasons social media monitoring could not be used for political polling and hinted that there was still a crucial role social media monitoring could play in polling strategy.  This is the subject of today’s blog.

A Bit of Background

In the last Canadian general election, Twitter featured prominently for the first time. All of the political parties had a presence on Twitter, as did the leaders. News organizations published stories to the web that were instantly shared. It inspired many to refer to the 41st general election as ‘#elxn41’ and “Canada’s first social media election“.

The Conservative Party of Canada, the governing party, and the Liberal Party of Canada, the Official Opposition, had been the only two parties to govern Canada in its history. The New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP), formed in 1961, had never formed the official opposition in Ottawa. The Green Party of Canada had never successfully elected a member of parliament (MP) and their leader, Elizabeth May, had already lost one bid for a seat in the previous general election. Finally, the Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party that only runs candidates in the province of Quebec, ran candidates again.

Conventional wisdom at the outset said that nothing would change. The Conservatives were expected to hold on to power. Whether they would win a majority government depended – it was thought – on how well the Liberal Party did. The NDP was expected to finish third, and the jury was out on how the Green Party would do.

Conventional wisdom, as it turned out, would be mostly wrong.

In the end, the Conservatives did hold on to power and won their first majority government in 23 years. For the first time in Canadian history, the NDP became the country’s Official Opposition, the Liberals were reduced to third place in Parliament, and the Green Party’s first MP, their party’s leader, was elected.

Now that you have some historical and political context, let’s break down the social and polling data to understand the place of social media monitoring in political strategy.

Political Conversations on Social Media are Not Representative

We know how the election turned out in reality.  Nanos Research published a tracking poll three days prior to the May 2nd, 2011 election day showing that these results were likely.

This Nanos tracking poll reflects the actual make up of the House of Commons after the election. Data gleaned from social media monitoring paints a different picture.

Monitoring all mentions of the individual parties’ hashtags with the #elxn41 Twitter hashtag, which became the center of English language political discussion (Francophones in Quebec used a separate hashtag to discuss the election), shows that the NDP would have formed the government in a landslide victory.

The problem is that the trend graph reflects the total number of mentions each hashtag received; it does not take into account voter intention. The pie chart below shows the share of voice each party enjoyed on social media.

The Canadian House of Commons is comprised of 308 seats. Had social media correctly predicted the outcome of the election using the cumulative data available, the NDP would have formed a minority government with 100 seats. The Conservatives would be Canada’s official opposition with 95 seats. The Liberals would have placed third with 78 seats, the Green Party would have 29 seats and the Bloc would have finished with six seats.

Of course, it didn’t turn out this way.

Early Warning Signals

While I hold firm to my position that social media monitoring cannot be used for political polling, I also maintain that there is an important place for it within the industry. Social media monitoring allows political strategists to see what issues are hiding just below the surface and can help inform what they should be polling for.

As the election got underway, the media began focusing more on the race between the Liberal Party and the NDP. This narrative wasn’t supported by traditional polling (see the Nanos poll above) that showed the NDP had dropped in approval ratings since the first day of the campaign.

The social data tells a different tale. If we isolate the data on the trend graph to show only the Liberals and the NDP, we see their share of voice was extremely close throughout the election.

In fact, the Liberals and the NDP battled it out for the lead on a near daily basis until April 21st, when Canada’s national media reported that polls showed the NDP over-taking the Liberals.

What Does It Mean?

The social data was telling a story that was not being picked up by the national polls. This is not a fault of the polling agencies. There is little in the social data that would give any reliable indication regarding voter intention.

The social data in this trend line tells us only that both parties were being talked about roughly the same. When compared to the national polling data, it tells us that something is going on, not what exactly, but enough to commission a poll to find out if voting intention is shifting.  In retrospect, this was what was happening, as the April 21st poll revealed, but conventional wisdom said it would never happen.

These last two blog posts have been longer then normal. I appreciate you reading and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Can Social Media Be Used for Political Polling?

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on July 18, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Every month, there are one or two blogs that look at the topic of using social media for opinion polling.

It made me curious as to whether social media could be used for opinion and tracking polls in politics. Could political and campaign staff at the national level produce their own opinion polls on those issues that don’t justify the expenditure but surely haunt their sleep because they can’t commission a poll?

My conclusion? No, but it can give political operatives some early warning signals as to what issues are on a slow boil.

All Hail: The Glorious and Fundamental Principle of ‘Equal Probability of Selection’

The principle of equal probability is the fundamental core of polling. It states that every member of a population has an equal – or in some instances a known – probability of being selected in a sample,allowing pollsters to limit the number of calls they have to make; typically, 1,000 individuals is enough. Because everyone has an equal opportunity to be called, the opinions of these individuals are representative of the general population.

This is important. It is the first fundamental reason why social media cannot currently be used to replace polling in politics. This principle cannot be applied to social media monitoring today.

The Rules of Engagement: Comprehensive Sampling Frame

The comprehensive sample frame determines how polling agencies identify their random sample, ensure its randomness, and ensure its accuracy. Since 1986, the telephone has been the preferred method of polling. It has been the preferred method because upwards of 95% of US and Canadian homes, according to the most recent American and Canadian census, have a landline-based telephone, although that is beginning to change in significant ways.

When pollsters call this randomly selected list of individuals, they ask to speak to the person in the household that is 18 years of age or older who had their birthday most recently. This ensures that the individuals polled will be random, protecting the fundamental principle of equal probability of selection.

After the data has been collected and data processed, each respondent is assigned a weighted value so that the total weighted sample represents the demographic characteristics of the latest US or Canadian census. Age, gender, race, educational attainment, and region are weighted accordingly, and the result is a representation of opinions held by all Americans or Canadians.

It’s Cumulative but Not Representative

Data recovered from social media is cumulative in nature. It begins by pulling in large volume on specific keywords chosen by the analyst over a set date range. The data is then collected to show how many conversations are taking place on social media channels related to those keywords. Currently there is no way to impose the scientific principles discussed above.

In its current incarnation, social media monitoring does not allow for the selection of random individuals using the probability of equal selection principle.

  • While upwards of 95% of Americans and Canadians can be reached by telephone, the percentage of individuals with access to the Internet in their homes in 60% in the United States and 79% in Canada. As a frame of reference, social media has not reached the level of universality achieved by the telephone.
  • Unless someone volunteers to put their demographic data in their social profiles, it is not possible to know all of the important demographic information that is needed to properly weight the results. Location data, age, gender, race, and educational attainment are not always listed, and many people use profile images that are not of themselves.

Having no way to ensure that the information gathered via social media monitoring can uphold the rigorous scientific standards of traditional polling methods there is no way that the data can be made representative of anything, let alone the opinions of a nation.

The Political Variables

In the political arena, there is further reason why social media cannot take the place of traditional polling.

The majority of political opinions expressed on social media have a tendency to adhere to the meta-narratives of both political campaigns and the mainstream media. People may be inclined to include their personal opinions when retweeting a news article, but there is substantial room for a type of response bias, a phenomenon in which people do not share their own personal opinions because they may be socially unacceptable. Since social media is a public forum, the inhibition to state one’s true beliefs can be a significant factor in what they write.

Social media monitoring acts as a window into these conversations, but it is not possible to ask questions for deeper analysis on these topics or even on topics unrelated to those running in the established meta-narrative.

Finally, because the reliability of demographic data is subject to what users of social media voluntarily provide, it is impossible to account for regional and local issues that shape races district-to-district, riding-to-riding. It is difficult to drill down to understand how government policies are impacting local economies, or account for the popularity of an entrenched incumbent.

What Is It Good For?

The strengths of social media data in the political arena lie elsewhere and I’ll demonstrate that Friday using the last Canadian federal election, held in the spring of 2011, as my case study.

Identifying Voters and Moving Them Through Your Social Media Funnel

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on June 8, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Political parties win and lose based on their voter ID lists. These lists are normally compiled by mixing official membership lists, intel gathered by field operatives, and door-to-door canvassing.

Social media has provided political parties with a very powerful tool for identifying supporters and moving them from random re-tweeters on social media to registered party members or voters.

Social is More than Communications

Communications is the obvious fit for social media in the political operative’s toolbox. It provides an opportunity to speak directly to the electorate without having their message go through the media filter. It’s an especially useful tool for rallying a political party’s base, but it can also deliver a message to non-partisans through re-tweets and shared posts.

Social media monitoring platforms allow political parties to track how far their message has traveled across the social web. The Radian6 engagement console shows each individual that has retweeted or shared content, allowing political operatives to cross-reference the users’ social profiles with their existing voter ID lists. This task is made easier if those voter ID lists are contained within a CRM system.

Connect the Pieces

There are many critics who argue that retweets and Facebook shares do not convert to votes received on election-day. They argue that it is one thing to simply click the mouse to share information on social media and quite another to stand in line at a polling station to cast a ballot.

That is quite true. Yet I would argue that an important piece of the puzzle is missing: for the social voter ID funnel to work, it cannot be seen as an end in and of itself. The social funnel has to be seen as a gateway to the traditional voter ID and outreach systems political parties already have in place.

Making the Connection

To accomplish this task, political parties need to devote staff whose sole purpose is to create relationships with people who have responded to their content by sharing or commenting on it. This is the process of community building that has been proven successful time and again in the private sector.

Any political operative will tell you that when canvassing a neighborhood for support, a lot of the work of identifying whether or not someone is a likely supporter is done during a quick huddle at the end of each driveway. What was the tone of the conversation? Was the resident engaged, and if so, what kinds of issues were important to them?

Social media outreach provides a greater amount of certitude while centralizing the social media task at party headquarters. As likely supporters are engaged by a political community team, it will be possible to identify issues that spark engagement and record that information using post tags in the engagement console.

Perhaps a social media user engages frequently around poverty issues. That information can be recorded on their profiles and used later by the traditional party apparatus for a membership drive targeting people who relate to this specific issue. The goal at this stage is to move that person from being an unregistered community member to a registered member of the party.

Complete the Transition

Once that individual conversion has been made, the interaction on social and through other channels doesn’t stop. An important transition has occurred by cultivating that relationship from unknown and unregistered voter to party member. Now he or she can be reached by the traditional party machine via newsletters, phone banks and local neighborhood canvassers. When it is time to get out the vote (GOTV), these social media advocates will likely be more motivated to go to the polls. Political parties can also reach them directly to ensure they have voted, and if not, encourage them to do so.

While the social media world has reduced the hectic 24-hour news cycle to a dizzying 140-character cycle for political communications, it hasn’t done the same for voter ID, member registration, and GOTV. These still require relationship management and time to cultivate connections. Social media monitoring platforms facilitate a wider reach allowing political parties to find supporters where they live online. The social voter ID funnel can not replace traditional, on the ground voter ID practices, but it will help grow voter ID lists.

Social Media Hashtags Become a Political Weapon of Choice

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on May 22, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Twitter hashtags have become the political operative’s weapon of choice at this early stage of the US Presidential election cycle.

Twitter is already used by politicians and partisans largely as a means of sniping at one another, but lately there has been a shift in the way politicians and political operatives are using the social media platform.

The trend now involves the use of increasingly creative hashtags from both the Democrats and the Republicans taking direct aim at each other’s positions on policy.

#DontDoubleMyRate vs. #NotFunny

The political hashtags that have been coming from the Democrats and Republicans reduce complex issues into pithy slogans that will resonate with American voters. The prize? Having that haghtag enter the mainstream political conversation by being picked up on by major media outlets.

Some recent examples of this phenomenon include the Obama campaign’s #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag and the Romney campaign’s #NotFunny hashtag.

#DontDoubleMyRate is the hashtag being used by the President and the Democratic members of Congress to put pressure on their Republican counterparts and oppose the doubling of interest rates on student loans after July 1. In a speech to the University of California, Obama encouraged his audience to use the hashtag to spread the Democratic message.

After President Obama’s recent appearances on the Jimmy Fallon Show and at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the Romney campaign started its own hashtag, #NotFunny. The campaign suggested that the President was spending too much time cracking jokes and not enough time on economic issues.

Each of these examples became trending topics on Twitter and were picked up by the mainstream media. Let’s take a look at how political communication shops can monitor hashtags and leverage this data to extend their life.

Monitoring Your Hashtags

(Before we look at monitoring hashtags, it’s worth noting that the data returned may appear to favor the President’s hashtag. The point is not to show that the President’s hashtag has more mentions then the Republican National Committee’s. Rather, it is to demonstrate that in both cases, social media monitoring can be used to measure the success of a hashtag campaign as compared to previous campaigns.)


When President Obama urged students to take to Twitter to voice their opposition to a hike in interest fees on student loans at the University of California, they followed the Commander-in-Chief’s instructions.

Based on the trend graph you can see that the initial #DontDoubleMyRate campaign took off. Within minutes of the President’s comments, his official Twitter account sent the word, out as did the official White House and Democratic Party Twitter accounts.

This trend graph is instructive because it demonstrates how hashtags can have new life breathed into them. After the initial spike (17,938 mentions), the #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag started to lose its vigor. On May 8th, there was another smaller spike when the president combined the hashtag (featured above) with a call to action.


The #NotFunny campaign was started by the Republican National Committee in response to appearances made by President Obama on the Jimmy Fallon Show and the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. The goal of the campaign was to communicate that the President was out of touch with what matters to the electorate.

The trend graph shows that the #NotFunny hashtag took off on social media as well. It generated enough tweets to trend in the United States and made it into the mainstream media. Despite the smaller numbers, the hashtag was still a success.  Once the initial peak was over (1, 116 mentions) the hashtag mentions fell off sharply. The smaller peaks around May 11 were the result of an advocacy organization attempting to co-opt the hashtag for their own purposes.

It’s also worth noting that the #NotFunny hashtag is somewhat more generic then the #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag. From the perspective of political messaging the #NotFunny hashtag was a rhetorical spear that hit it’s mark among partisans and the mainstream media covering politics. The initial spike was heavily focused on the Republican message track but after that the hashtag becomes muddled with other unrelated conversations from people using the hashtag for their own non-political purposes. When landing on a hashtag it’s best to try to land on something more specific.

Content Marketing and Political Campaigns

Being able to monitor the progress of a hashtag campaign allows communication shops to plan for content. Yes, a creative hashtag that makes it into the mainstream media is a great return on investment for a news cycle. What would happen if political parties began to extend the life of the hashtag campaign? What would this look like?

The approach is quite simple. Once a message track has been settled on, and before the initial tweet goes out, some time should be spent on producing online content – videos, blogs, infographics, etc. – to be launched when the online mentions start to sag. Maybe the mainstream media has picked up on the hashtag, reported it, and moved on, but that’s the traditional news cycle not the social news cycle.

As long as new and relevant information is being produced and being shared, there is political hay to be made.

4 Clever Ways the Republicans and Democrats Use Social Media to Raise Money and Identify their Vote

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on July 11, 2012. I am posting it here for posterity.

In the United States the national Republican and Democratic parties are doing an incredibly good job at harnessing social media for fundraising and voter I.D.

Here are four things they do really well that can be adopted (and modified) for state and local political parties.

Leverage Social Participation & Offer Rewards

The Obama campaign has organized a couple of fundraisers that offer supporters the chance to attend A-list Hollywood events with the President. The donation required to enter the raffle is low – 3 dollars – and has been overwhelmingly successful generating 9 million dollars from the lottery alone for an event at George Clooney’s. The success of the event has inspired the Romney campaign to do a similar event, and will likely become a mainstay of presidential fundraising going forward.

State and local political parties may not be able to attract the star power that POTUS and Clooney can muster but the principle can still be applied. Local political volunteers would appreciate the opportunity to have a sit down with political players in their area. It will provide an incentive to give and an opportunity for that volunteer to be recognized. You can bet they’ll leave that event ready to work even harder in the future.

Issue Based Donations – The ‘Money Bomb’

The ‘Money Bomb’ is a time-honored tactic that has been given new life in the social media era. Timing is essential when a political issue surfaces that resonates with your base. Being able to harness that passion and turn it into donations and registrations at its height is essential to success. Prior to the advent of social media issue-based fundraising was slower as it took time to fire up phone banks and send mail-outs. The social media era cuts down the time significantly and the organic nature of sharing allows you to reach people that aren’t in your database as well.

Own the Meme

Political memes have become a staple of this presidential election cycle. Political humor is a sacred aspect of Western democracy and American political humorists have some of the sharpest wit around. One meme that proved to be fundraising dynamite for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, was the SNL inspired “sweatervest meme”. Santorum had been frequently pictured wearing sweatervests, and SNL comedian Andy Samberg picked up on that fact to poke fun at the presidential hopeful. Santorum’s campaign saw the humor in it and turned it into a fundraising machine bringing in $300,000 for his campaign.

Lift the Hood

In politics the term “inside baseball” is often used to describe the minutiae of day-to-day political life. It’s the kind of stuff that politicians and political operatives live and die by in their bubble but assume (correctly for the most part) that most living in the world outside politics would have little use for.

During the 2008 presidential election cycle the Obama team found out that sharing this inside information was an effective tool for grass-roots organization and fundraising. ‘Lifting the hood’ as Obama campaign manager David Plouffe described in The Audacity to Win allowed “our supporters to understand how we saw the race and to know why their money and time were so important.”

Scale and Deploy

As I said at the outset these are examples from the big leagues of national politics but I believe they can be scaled to meet the needs of state and local political machines as well. These examples will attract attention as your supporters participate and share this content with their networks. This participation, from simple shares to active donations, allows parties to identify their vote and welcome people into their sphere of influence.

Who’ll Be Romney’s Running Mate? Social Media Buzzing About Scott Walker

This blog post was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on June 15th, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity. 

As the Republican primaries come to an end, people are beginning to speculate as to whom Mitt Romney will choose to be his vice-presidential running mate.

This conversation is well underway on social media. Let’s look at which of the rumored candidates to date are generating the most attention.

The Candidates

The list of rumored candidates is already long and will likely continue to evolve over the coming weeks. The list includes:

There have been some reports that Mitt Romney may announce his choice for a running mate ahead of the Republican National Convention being held in Tampa Bay, Florida, August 27-30. While Romney and his campaign have not tipped their hand as to whom they are considering, social media users are registering their thoughts.

Based solely on the number of mentions each of the rumored candidates are receiving on social, a couple of front runners have emerged.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received a huge boost after surviving the state’s recall election last week and now leads social conversations related to vice-presidential speculation. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal have generated the most social conversations related to VEEP speculation over the last 30 days.

A closer look at the conversation trends reveals that Scott Walker’s social mentions were largely accumulated the day of and the day after his election victory.

If you remove Scott Walker from the trend graph, it reveals that the conversations are starting to converge again, but that Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal have generated the biggest number of conversations over a sustained period of time.

What do you think of the numbers so far? Do you think any of the rumored candidates will become the candidate for vice president? Let us know in the comments.

Rock the Vote Takes to Social Media to Register Voters

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.