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Earlier this year we expanded our social media tools to include a recurring Twitter import capability, which allows you to pull the entire following of any Twitter account into your database for prospecting. This data has been available publicly for a while, but it was never connected to powerful search and CRM tools. With this functionality, Twitter becomes a giant online phonebook and reaching people is as easy as clicking.

My colleague Phil Kregel and I wondered if we could use this recurring import to create master files of everyone engaged in US politics. What if we could centralize all of the people engaging in every major conservative and progressive cause, in one place, and learn from it? And that’s how "goptwitter" and "demtwitter" were born.

We set up Goptwitter, an import that automatically pulls in followers of the RNC, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Heritage, the NRA, and many more for a total of almost 4 million records. Demtwitter pulls in followers of OFA, Elizabeth Warren, Emily's List, the Sierra Club, Hillary Clinton, and many others for a total of over 7 million active accounts.

And just like that, we could see the online conservative and progressive movements in a whole new way.

By combining these records with NationBuilder's powerful filtering tool, we viewed individual bio's, mapped followings, and identified top social influencers. At first glance, this was all interesting fodder for research.

Why is only 4% of OFA following ReadyForHillary?

What could the conservative movement do with the 46k self-identified military veterans following top tier presidential candidates and major advocacy organizations?

Then we had another epiphany: All of these folks on Twitter are engaging with causes they care about, but almost none of those actions are being reciprocated. We could help solve this problem by opening up access to this data for customers who want to organize people. In fact, we already know it works – in the 2014 election cycle numerous efforts on each side used Twitter imports to drive up volunteerism and GOTV awareness. Some went even deeper, like the campaign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's unexpectedly easy win. Harris Media has a great case study that details their digital efforts, FWIW.

So let's imagine we're an advocacy organization putting forth a bipartisan plan for small business tax breaks. We want to quickly impact the presidential election and provide an incentive for all the candidates to endorse our plan. Here's a quick example of how to execute a direct contact strategy using Twitter imports in 7 easy steps...that can all be done from the NationBuilder platform.

  1. Identify a universe. In this case, we want everyone with keywords like "small business" and "entrepreneur" in their Twitter bio. Goptwitter pulls in 27,931 people using this criteria, and Demtwitter pulls in 40,129.

  2. Find the top tier targets. If we focus these 67,000 targets, we can find about 5,000 who directly follow the DNC and the RNC, we can segment out the 5% with high levels of social influence (in this case, lots of followers), and maybe we also specially target everyone in Iowa too.

  3. Follow the top tier targets...and see who follows us back.  

  4. Of this cohort, send them a link to join our email list.

  5. After people join, send them a special targeted invite to a local event and bring them into our overall donor and volunteer activation program.

  6. For anyone who's not a top target and didn't sign up for the email list through a direct conversation, target them with a sponsored tweet that shows up at the top of their feed. Ideally this is a petition or a survey that captures their email.

  7. Capture all the emails that come in from the sponsored tweet, follow those people, and bring them into the overall donor and volunteer activation program.

With young people steadily opting out of landlines (40% of US households are now cell phone only, and growing), we've essentially supplanted a traditional phone program with a social media direct contact strategy. Only it is far better targeted, has the benefit of reaching known influencers, and is significantly more data-rich. And young volunteers would much rather tweet like-minded individuals than call random strangers. 

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