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Meet Petitions Designed for Twitter

BY Jim Gilliam | Wednesday, June 24 2009

Jesse Haff and I were inspired by Clay Johnson's post last week about Twitter being the future of email marketing to figure out how Twitter could breathe new life into the boring old petition, the stalwart of email-based activism.


It's only been out for a day and a half, and already it's put Wired in the hot seat for not including enough diversity on their panels, and both Gov. Granholm and Lt. Governor John Cherry of Michigan signed a petition to the Michigan Senate GOP to "keep the Michigan Promise Scholarship."

Here's why activism is better:

  1. You sign a petition by tweeting about it. So it instantly shows up in all your followers' timelines. What was once a multiple step process is now one click.
  2. Every petition is targeted at another Twitter user, so every time it's tweeted, it shows up in their mentions.
  3. The petition target simply has to click the link and log in with their Twitter account to respond.
  4. The petition starter can include a checkbox for any tweeters to follow them for updates. This is the primary way activist groups grow in the email world, and it extends beautifully on Twitter.
  5. Every petition signature includes all the information they have in their Twitter profile, including a photo, their short bio, website, where they're from, and how influential they are. This can have a lot more impact than a list of names and cities common in the email world.
  6. Even though it's so easy to sign, every petition signature is far more meaningful now because not only was a person willing to sign it, they were also willing to tell all of their friends about it too.
  7. Since nearly the entire social graph on Twitter is public, we can build a really powerful set of analytics. Things we've always wanted to know that just weren't possible with email, are now possible. Expect to see this available on in the next few weeks.

Bottom line, you can go from outrage, to petition, to people signing in under 2 minutes. Twitter is the perfect environment for activism. Check it out at