Twitter Looks to Boost Voter Participation with New Registration Info Tool
Twitter's looking to play its part in the upcoming Presidential Election, with a new automated system now in place to help people register to add their voice.
"Starting today, when a someone sends a private, Direct Message to Twitter's @Gov account with their five-digit zip code, that person will receive an automatic Direct Message response including their state's voter registration deadline and a personalized link to get registered."
The new program is part of a partnership with Rock the Vote which is aiming to use Twitter's reach - particularly among younger voters - to raise awareness of the election and motivate people to participate.
In addition, Twitter will also use Pew's Voting Information Project and Google's Information Civic API to answer additional questions from voters, like polling place location and ballot information, all via their @Gov account.
And to help further boost awareness and electoral participation, Twitter's also encouraging those who have registered to tweet as much using the hashtag #iRegistered, which will now include an election emoji that provides a link to registration details for anyone who clicks on it.
And while those measures may seem minor, previous studies have shown that actions like these on social can have a significant impact.
Back in 2010, around 340,000 extra voters turned out to take part in the US Congressional elections because of a single election-day Facebook message, according to researcher estimates.
The means through which these voters were influenced to vote was pretty simple:
"About 611,000 users (1%) received an 'informational message' at the top of their news feeds, which encouraged them to vote, provided a link to information on local polling places and included a clickable 'I voted' button and a counter of Facebook users who had clicked it. About 60 million users (98%) received a 'social message', which included the same elements but also showed the profile pictures of up to six randomly selected Facebook friends who had clicked the 'I voted' button. The remaining 1% of users were assigned to a control group that received no message."
The results of the test showed that users who received the informational message (the top message in the above image) voted at the same rate as those who saw no message at all, while those who saw the social message - with images of their friends included (lower example in above image) were 2% more likely to click the 'I voted' button and 0.4% more likely to head to the polls than the either group. Researchers estimated that the social message directly increased voter turnout by 60,000 votes, while a further 280,000 people were "indirectly nudged to the polls" by seeing messages in their News Feeds - notifications that their friends had voted.
Given this, and given how close some polls seem to suggest the current election race is, every single effort on this front counts - Google too has introduced measures to help get more people to the polls, adding in-depth how to vote information in both English and Spanish in Search.
On another front, Twitter's automated response tool is also a reminder of the platform's capacity to connect people to resources - there's a similar automated tool in place in Delhi which provides users with relevant, up-to-date public transport information, activated via tweet.
That functionality is akin to how Facebook's looking to approach customer service via Messenger, automating much of the process with Bots that are activated when people send through a message.
On this front, it's a little surprising that Twitter isn't looking to emphasize this functionality more in order to compete. According to research, more than 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on Twitter already - given this, it would make sense for Twitter to work on providing additional tools and processes like this to enable faster customer interactions via tweet and DM. In fact, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone just announced a similar Twitter integration for his app, Jelly, which enables users to ask questions via tweet, rather than having to log into the app.
Those integrations are nowhere near as complex as Facebook's AI powered Bot systems, no doubt, but Twitter's working on its own AI capacity. It would make sense for Twitter to emphasize the power of automated responses like this new @Gov option to help brands offer simplified, and faster, customer service.
You can get more information on how to register to vote via @Gov on Twitter
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