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Luis Hestres Kimberly Fountain and Alex Bea 8 min read

Tweeting for Climate Change? Lessons Learned from 1Sky’s Twitter Campaign

Last April, 1Sky decided to invest a significant amount of time, energy, and resources into Twitter. Why? Because we have short attention spans and 140 characters is almost more than we can handle. Kidding. We actually recognized Twitter’s potential for live blogging events, commenting on relevant issues surrounding climate legislation, and creating conversations with like-minded supporters to build a groundswell of support for our issues. Recent events in Iran and India showed Twitter's ability to build a groundswell and deploy rapid response messaging, albeit in a much less urgent sense in holding rallies and actions related to climate change.

This fall, with the Senate version of a climate bill coming into the foreground, we engaged the community in creating a message that could define a call to action for the climate movement.  Twitter seemed like the best fit as a social media tool for this project: something simple to create, share, and distribute with a broad reach, without a lot of assets to manage, and try to create a fun, new dialog about the climate bill.

So, we created and launched the "1Climate, 1Tweet" contest, a Twitter campaign designed to meet very general goals of community involvement in campaign messaging and increased messaging in the “Twittersphere” around the climate movement and the Senate climate bill.

We came up with very specific campaign goals:

  • More community involvement in campaign messaging;
  • Increase messaging in the “Twittersphere” around climate the movement and the Senate climate bill;
  • Increase 1Sky's ability to communicate campaigns/responses through Twitter;
  • List build through social networks;
  • Update existing records with Twitter account names;
  • Create an online campaign to organize messaging not based on an offline Field activity.

The results? We received more than 50 entries and dozens of rewteeted messages using the “#1climate” hash tag during the contest. Planet Green, Current Green, and Grist were among the top bloggers who covered the contest. We also built a great Twitter application for our website, thanks to Community IT Innovators (CITIDC). The widget was used as a way to show recently tweeted #1climate entries and provide a count for unique re-tweets. The widget also removed any tweets that used profanity or used terms or phrases that we thought would be negative for the campaign. The portable widget is no longer available, but you can view it on our site here.

Furthermore, we got to speak about it with other organizations and groups at TWTRCON, a twitter convention in Washington, DC.

So, what was the ROI? Well, lower than we thought. We had hoped for more entries, more re-tweets, and more interaction with our contestants. We messaged them directly several times to promote their messages to be eligible for prizes and messaging finals. We also missed an opportunity to gather a new batch of Twitter names from a social media list build prior to the campaign, giving us a low number of entries and word of mouth. Following the contest, the team broke down the results with a post-mortem on Google Docs: 

What worked:

  • Strong word-of-mouth from bloggers and props from the enviro/climate community
  • Good responses from contest participants, staff, and allies.
  • Innovative
  • Crowd-sourcing a motto through Twitter is a good idea
  • Widget was cool

What to do in the future for similar campaigns:

  • Wait until you have a list of Twitter names with emails, if possible. (Note: We asked contestants for their Twitter names during registration using our Democracy in Actions forms. We re-worked the registration page to be a little more user-friendly. In January, we'll start the process of asking people for their Twitter names when they login to be part of a rapid response Twitter team to tweet this climate message when the Senate picks the climate bill back up in 2010.  
  • Use it as a main campaign instead of a side campaign (i.e. use email blasts, etc)
  • Rules of campaign need to be clear to the public and should use example tweets for people to understand what you're looking for/want

Going forward, we’re able to see how we can gather our followers and use our various lists to build a campaign and simplify our messages with our followers.  There are thousands of climate legislation conversations happening right now, and we want to be a part of every one of them. Social media will help us get there with a bit of tweaking…and tweeting.

Oh, and a nice word from our contest winner:

1Sky supporter Elle Cayabyab Gitlin of Washington, DC composed the winning #1Climate tweet: "Climate change won't wait for legislation that's late: #1climate"

Gitlin said of her tweet, “Taking care of the world we live in is the responsible thing to do.  That’s why I want Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that not only creates jobs in the clean energy sector, but also uses American creativity to come up with solutions that will save billions of dollars in energy costs.  We need decisive action now to protect not just our environment, but our economy, our health, our jobs, and our nation’s security.”

*Luis Hestres, Kimberly Fountain, and Alex Bea are members of the 1Sky team.


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