Twitter’s newest policy change could spell the death of the classic twitterstorm — but we have a solution to keep your tweet-to-target action impactful, your online supporters active, and your tweets fresh and unique.
An end to copy-paste tweets
Last week, Twitter introduced a change to their “Copypasta and Duplicate content” policy. Internal policies rarely make big news – but this particular change may prove to cause trouble for digital campaigners and activists across the world.
Twitter has officially declared war on what they consider “duplicative” content. But while their policy is mainly targeting bots and spammers, it might also spell hard times ahead for the classic “twitterstorm” – an online advocacy tactic wielded by progressive NGOs and campaigners to pressure decision-makers and enact change.
For example, when the same pre-written tweet is shared by multiple accounts – whether by manual copy-pasting or by using a click-to-tweet link or tool – it could now be flagged as “copypasta” and hidden from view. This means it will no longer have the power to make a topic or a hashtag “trending” – the elusive holy grail of the tap-to-tweet digital mass action.
Why Twitter matters to campaign organisations
Twitter is a public forum – and for the past years, campaigners have relied on mass tweet-to-target actions, twitterstorms and hashtag takeovers to get many people screaming the same message in many voices, hoping to get heard.
Twitter actions which ask a user (member, supporter, followerer, campaigner, etc) to tweet a pre-written template message from their individual account have in the past been an essential tool in any campaigning organisation’s toolbox. They’re simple and make taking a digital action easy for the user – it might require as little as two taps or clicks for the campaign message to be shared or amplified. Twitterstorms can spark media and public opinion’s interest in a topic – not to mention, any tweets directed at a campaign target are bound to get noticed.
But Twitter’s new rules mean that the classic twitterstorm might soon be a thing of the past. Twitter’s vow to “limit visibility” of duplicative content (what they call “copypasta”) means that identical (or nearly identical) messages tweeted from different accounts – the core idea of the well-loved campaign action on Twitter – will be hidden from view and might well not reach their intended target and audience.
The Snowflake Engine to the rescue
So, how can campaigning NGOs respond – what can be done for an impactful Twitter action?
One option would be to ask supporters to write tweets manually, with prompts based on talking points or key messages. This could work in some cases – having engaged supporters who take action mostly under their own steam is the dream! – but it’s unlikely to reach the majority of supporters who will take an easy action if nudged to be a large-scale action.
We have an alternative solution with our Twitter Action widget, powered by what we call the Snowflake Engine. This approach allows for an easy supporter click-to-tweet action but with a multitude of texts set by the campaigner running the action (which the support can, of course, change). The individual supporter may not even notice the difference, but it means a variety of tweets and messages instead of a mass of identikit tweets.
The example above was an action about fossil fuel lobbying by Corporate Europe Observatory, four different tweets across seven targets. Behind the scenes, this is what it looked like for the campaigner
What powers the tweet-to-target widget is what we call the Snowflake Engine — a clever solution which allows you to create many (as many as you want!) different versions of your pre-written campaign message for Twitter, and one is randomly served to each visitor to the widget. This is combined having multiple targets (either a displayed list to choose from or pre-filled based on the user’s location or other criteria).
There is also some coding magic we use: we can benefit from the complexity of unicode to automatically write texts which look the same to a human but are different for the computer. So far, our tests show that Twitter hasn’t found a way to prevent this. We like to share, but not so widely that Twitter could change this, so if you want to know more and discuss using the tool for your campaign, contact us to discuss this trick further!
… and voilá! Instead of one identical template tweet, supporters can tweet dozens or even hundreds of different versions with the same single click-to-action, and your campaign is no longer at risk of being throttled by Twitter’s new policy.
In addition, Proca’s widget is available in 36 languages, designed to work for coalitions which allows each partner organisation can customise their campaign content and template tweets. Depending on the campaign’s context, this could mean hundreds or thousands of variants — with just one simple tool for your supporters to enjoy.
So, to recap, Proca’s tweet-to-target action widget is a great option because:
- Our Snowflake Engine technology allows you to write as many different template tweets for your campaign action as you like and will randomly generate a new tweet when the user lands on the action page, mashing together targets and template components
- Our widget will customise the targets it displays for the user based on their country or other criteria, ensuring that your supporters can always target decision-makers that are the most relevant to their context.
- Proca currently supports 36 languages (both static widget text, and the campaign content) and integrates with online translators like Deepl.com if needed.
- Our action tools are made to work for NGO coalitions, and allow partners to customise content and configuration – and make conversations about data, GDPR and following up with supporters easier than ever.