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Twitter + Ads + Daily Kos = SEIU's New Health Care Campaign

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, October 20 2009

Auto-tweeting -- the term of art for creating something that users click on that pre-populates their Twitter box -- has existed ever since the day that someone figured out that by tweaking the URL "twitter.com/home?status=WHATEVER" you could prompt Twitter however you'd like. (Like, ehem, this.) Patients First's Hands Off Our Health Care campaign, for example, has used the basic technique.

But stuffing an auto-retweeting into an advertisement, making the message editable, and then attaching the whole thing to topical blog posts? Not until today, my friend. Over on Daily Kos, SEIU is running ads that encourage would-be tweeters to post a note protesting gender discrimination when it comes to health insurance -- such as denying women coverage for pre-existing conditions like providing for the continuation of the species (i.e., pregnancy). Step two is that the pre-packaged tweet also links up to an SEIU online deli-style ticket machine, where people can '"take a number" to be counted amongst those opposed to gender discrimination in health care. The tally is up past 3,000 (though it seems to move up a number every time someone clicks on the machine, not necessarily every time they tweet).

This SEIU project is creative, and they're pushing an advocacy position rather than a product, but it makes one wonder Twitter users will react to inorganic content as it becomes more prevalent; in other words, how do and will advertisements and ad-like tweets play on the rather cuddly Twitter network in the long run? It's very much an open question. That said, a start-up called Ad.ly just raised half a million dollars on the promise of matching celebrities with Twitter ad content. Though one thing that, for better or for worse, sets Ad.ly apart from SEIU: a compensated endorser in the form of @peeweeherman.