Innovations in Online Advocacy: Using Twitter & CRM for Petition Delivery

Recently we covered the success of Battle for the Net’s “Internet Slowdown” on September 10th, which resulted in over two million people taking action, leaving comments for the FCC, making phone calls and emailing their members of Congress. Organizers wanted to follow up on that surge, and deliver the petition signatures that they collected in September. Figuring out how to deliver a petition is important for getting attention--the goal is to flood decision makers with public comments, and to be visible when doing so.

Working with Demand Progress, we decided to leverage the petition data with a Twitter script. Using Twitter to deliver the petition meant we could target multiple decision makers in a publicly visible way. The trick--with any petition delivery tactic--is to make each instance unique, otherwise the impact and credibility is diminished by repetition. Enter “twitter cannon”, as we like to call it; a script which generates a series of unique tweets using some stock text, adding the signatory’s name, their Twitter handle, and the handles of one or many of the campaign targets. It is perfect for a rapid firing of tweets from your supporter base that are not repetitive or obviously cloned.

Here’s just a few examples:
Net Neutrality
"Getting online action noticed by legislators and officials is harder than it seems because of the barriers they put up to electronic delivery,” says David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “Using Twitter as a petition delivery tool was effective because it was a highly visible tactic. With the twitter tool, we were able to not just deliver signatures, but to create buzz and inspire further participation in the action. The unique tweets generated by the 'twitter cannon' were absolutely essential to a credible and meaningful digital action."

On November 10th, President Obama came out in support of net neutrality, releasing this video, in which he urged the FCC to enact the “strongest possible” regulations to protect the free internet. The President’s stance is unequivocal: "We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas."

Supporters of the free internet rejoiced, but we all know the fight is far from over. President Obama’s directive to the FCC, to apply Title II telecommunications regulations to ISPs, is very likely to meet challenges from Congress and big telecom has already vowed to fight any and every regulation attempt in federal courts. Supporters of the free internet--who cross all demographics and party lines--will have to keep the heat on the FCC and other decision makers to protect the egalitarian “marketplace of ideas” that is the internet as we know it.

Stay tuned for more. And, if you haven’t already, visit and tell the President to protect his legacy and reign in the FCC.