A Facebook-driven movement is organizing a march of 100,000 people on Washington on behalf of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. As of today, the Facebook event has amassed 95,000 RSVPs. The rally is likely to take place October 17th on the Washington Mall. Once the group receives 100,000 supporters, they will pitch the idea to Sanders.
The movement demonstrates both the power of social media in modern political campaigns and the unconventional tactics the Sanders team has used to reach high numbers of supporters. The number of attendees at Saunders' rallies outpaces his competitors by far. Sanders' rally earlier this month in Portland, Oregon, gathered 28,000 people. The largest crowd Hillary Clinton has drawn was 5,500 at her campaign kick-off in June in New York.
As The Observer puts it, the potential March on Washington, even if it does not draw the promised 100,000 people, is the equivalent of a mega-viral moment:
Even assuming that some who formally sign an RSVP for a Sanders march on Washington will not ultimately attend, the publicity surge leading into the event would be enormous. The grassroots movement through social media mobilizing Sanders supporters to attend would go mega-viral the minute Sanders agrees to attend, and the likely crowd attending this rally would be far larger than any event for any candidate in either party.
On Facebook, Sanders is known for not following the rules. As Social Media Today's Sarah Snow noted: "[Sanders] shares quotations as images. He posts long status updates. His team doesn't use keywords to be more searchable. And yet, despite these hiccups, Sanders' social media presence attracts a significant following." The reason is likely authenticity.
By speaking directly to people, transparently, and seemingly off the cuff, Sanders has created a dedicated following of supporters who are willing to do his bidding on social. If the march on Washington succeeds, it will be a remarkable feat, a lesson for the other candidates in how to reach the hearts of their supporters on Facebook and elsewhere.