When Shannon Lanier wanted to spread the word about Gov. Charlie Crist’s possible veto of funds for the University of South Florida Polytechnic she turned to the most immediate source of publicity, Twitter.
“Lakeland Vision has over 700 people who follow our Twitter feed to get updates on local matters,” she says. “We have recently dedicated most of our updates to the possible budget cuts that would negatively impact our community’s Vision.”
The community-created Vision has a specific strategy to “Partner with USF Polytechnic to leverage the new campus for economic development and high-wage job creation.”
“Lakeland Vision is acting on the community’s behalf to ensure the state funding remains in place to make that part of the Vision a reality,” she says.
“We have used Twitter to distribute information about the issue, how people can encourage Governor Crist to keep the funding in place, and to gather information about what others may be saying about the potential veto.”
The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce has also joined the campaign. According to Amy Wiggins, vice president of communications, Twitter offers an ideal format for reaching hundreds of people instantly
“We are active in using Twitter to communicate with our members and with the community around us,” she says. “We also use the Chamber’s Facebook page to relay tweets to our Facebook fans who might not participate in the Twittersphere. Twitter allows us to tie the force behind the issue with our brand, giving both a positive boost on the Web. While many see Twitter as ‘broadcast social media,’ we have learned that with issues like the USFP funding and “No on 4,” it creates a genuine conversation in the community–especially engaging the up-and-coming generations.”
According to social-media consultant Chuck Welch, who edits Lakeland Local and Metro I-4 News, “Twitter is an excellent tool for the fast dissemination of calls to action. They’re using the 21st Century version of the telephone tree — with the added advantage of an almost instantaneous spread of their message.”
Lanier says various followers have “re-tweeted” the posts, spreading the word to people who may not be plugged in to updates from the Chamber or Lakeland Vision.
“We are also re-tweeting updates from others trying to get the same message out to their constituents – or followers. Honestly, it’s pretty exciting to see people rally behind such a critical issue. We are delighted that Governor Crist is receiving emails, letters, phone calls and faxes from members of the Central Florida region encouraging him to sign the legislation as presented. We’re just doing our part by rallying together our social media troops to make the same impact.”
[Editor’s Note: To contact Governor Charlie Crist and let him know that you support the funding of USF Poly & Polk State College, visit our blog “Tell Governor Crist NO VETO on USFP Funding”. There you”ll find links to form letters that you can e-mail as well as Governor Crist’s phone number (850-488-4441)]