Trying Out #SoundOff

Increasingly, senators and congresspeople are paying attention to social media. It makes sense. Not only are letters and emails being supplanted by a quick tweet, but social listening provides a much more practical way to take the pulse of a constituency than sorting faxes into piles.

So it’s great to encourage people to tweet their representatives in the legislature. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make it as easy as we’d like. We can ask people to tweet their reps and support science education or decry vaccine exemptions, but how many people know their senator’s Twitter handle? How many can create a succinct demand in fewer than 140 characters (counting that Twitter handle)?

People need some help.

Sunlight Labs has a solution. Click on their name to find their API. If APIs aren’t part of your daily workflow, check out a tool made with their API called “#SoundOff” which lets you “Tweet@Congress.”


You can go to the website, pick an issue, and click a link to compose a tweet. You’ll be asked for your zip code, and maybe your street address if that’s not enough information for the tool to identify your representatives.


#SoundOff will list your reps and their Twitter handles, plus a space in which you can compose your tweets. The tweet below will start, “#StillWatching @Rep_Stevewomak, @JohnBoozman, @RepTomCotton…” continue with my message, and conclude with “#SoundOff.”


You can get suggestions which the organizers of the campaign provided, so you can just click a couple times and get your tweet populated.


So that’s how twitter users can use #SoundOff. Note that users can write their own tweets from scratch if they prefer.

You can also pick an individual to tweet to:


Want to set up a campaign? You can do so as a non-profit, a company, or an individual. If your company has a cause, this is a nice way to connect with it and create advocacy that’s easy for visitors. If you’re a non-profit, you have a lot of questions to answer, including your tax number. If you’re doing this as an individual, it’s easier.


Then you choose the targets (house or senate), write up some sample tweets to make it easy for your visitors, and submit your campaign for approval.


Once your campaign is approved, you can set up a page like the ones shown above, or a widget to go on your website.

When and if our campaign is approved, we’ll examine how to make and implement the widget.






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