The White House’s social media moguls turned to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube to drum up public support for extending the payroll tax cut last week, once it became clear that Congress was deadlocked.
The campaign generated a huge response to the question, “What does $40 mean to you,” which resulted in #40dollars trending on Twitter for a few hours.
Congress passed a two-month extension Friday and President Obama signed it into law. But did the #40dollars campaign meet its goal?
A high frequency of tweets doesn’t mean a hashtag campaign is effective. Hijacking is a common problem politicians and organizations encounter when mobilizing support around a hashtag. While supporters of the White House tweeted things like “#40dollars allows my son to have hot lunches at school,” detractors sent messages such as “@BarackObama is spending #40dollars every 15 seconds on his Hawaiian vacation.”
To figure out if #40dollars was successful, we asked social media analysis organization Crimson Hexagon to break down the data for us. They analyzed over 40,000 tweets containing the #40dollars hashtag, and provided us with the results:
47% of tweets were about what $40 can buy 31% of tweets were about the need for tax cuts
8% of tweets said $40 “is not enough”
13% of tweets were negative about Obama
The #40dollars tweets were largely the kind of material the White House was seeking. While opponents of the two-month extension used #40dollars to broadcast their own views, they were unable to match the number of supporters tweeting with the hashtag. By generating a high level of on-message interaction on Twitter, the White House was effectively able to bring attention to the situation and inform the public of its stance on the tax cut extension.