The U.S. federal shutdown this week means that for many government departments and agencies Twitter accounts and websites are temporarily paused while negotiations continue. But others have not let the cessation stop them getting their message out, using the real-time and conversational power of Twitter to directly reach constituents.
Conversely, the State Department (@TravelGov) countered misinformation about the shutdown by letting the world know it was still open for business:
Rally opinion using hashtags
Politicians brought the political fight to Twitter, using it to advance their positions in the ongoing (and often heated) debate, centralizing the conversation by introducing or playing off of existing hashtags.
Boehner engaged on Twitter as well:
This isn’t some game. We need to sit down and outline a path to reopen gov’t and bring fairness to Americans under #ObamaCare— John Boehner ( @johnboehner) October 4, 2013
Engage with constituents
Some politicians used Twitter to solicit and showcase the opinions of their constituents.
Encouraging folks to keep fighting the good fight! Letter from my constituent: pic.twitter.com/QWCBUbRUHj— Grace Meng ( @RepGraceMeng) October 3, 2013
Encourage retweets to spread the word
President Obama sent out a call to RT this Tweet:
And Republican Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) fired straight back with this:
Use photos and Vine to spread the message
Meanwhile many politicians used visual aids — both photos and Vine videos — to tell their side of the story.
President Obama has just threatened to veto funding bills for NIH kids, veterans, nat’l parks, nat’l guard & DC. pic.twitter.com/ofe2ucn7vA— Eric Cantor ( @GOPLeader) October 2, 2013
The #Shutdown: inside the numbers
As the shutdown hit, the conversation centered on its effects across the country, reaching its peak on October 1. We looked at mentions of both the shutdown and Obamacare over the last week (plus related terms).
Topsy geoanalysis of where the tweets originated from shows that much of the conversation around the shutdown was east coast, in contrast to mentions of ‘Obamacare’ and related terms, which originates in the mid-West:
As expected, the @BarackObama account upped its activity, posting more Tweets than normal in the days running up to October 1, when the shutdown came into force:
As of October 4, the President’s tweet was the most retweeted of the crisis so far:
They actually did it. A group of Republicans in the House just forced a government shutdown over Obamacare instead of passing a real budget.— Barack Obama ( @BarackObama) October 1, 2013
Do you know of any other innovative uses of Twitter? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.