Joe Kyrillos kept asking his opponent Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to debate him last summer, but Menendez wouldn't do it. So when Menendez announced he was having an #AskMenendez Twitter town hall, Kyrillos, with the help of the Heritage Foundation Action Fund, announced he was going to use #AskMenendez to have a virtual debate.
I'd been tracking the effort in the week leading up to the event, excited to see how it turned out.
The basic idea of the event was questions were tweeted to the Senator using the #AskMenendez hashtag and Menendez would tweet a reply using the hashtag. It was a simple use of hashtags to identify, follow and aggregate questions and answers.
When the hour arrived, Senator Menendez fielded the first question. Sure enough, Joe Kyrillos answered it, too.
Then... Kyrillos went silent. Not a peep (tweet) for the rest of the hour. What went wrong?
It turns out that Kyrillos immediately stopped using the #AskMenendez hashtag. Most likely, he thought at the last minute, "Wait! I can't mention my opponent's name in every tweet." So he stopped using it.
And thus, this brilliant plan evaporated. Without the hashtag, Kyrillos's tweets disappeared from the conversation, into the ether.
Sure, Kyrillos may have been tweeting his answers the whole hour, but it is irrelevant because none of the voters he was trying to peel off from his opponent saw his tweets.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.