Twitter’s Current Struggles and Potential Solutions

Twitter has proved itself as a powerful tool in political online organizing – from helping Arab Spring protesters share information and draw international attention to GOTV pushes in the United States.

But as yet another CEO steps down, it has become clear that there needs to be a discussion of what Twitter currently is compared to what Twitter could be.

Chris Sacca has written a great long read blog post about Twitter’s current struggles and potential solutions. He summarizes:

“Hundreds of millions of new users will join and stay active on Twitter, hundreds of millions of inactive users will return to Twitter, and hundreds of millions more will use Twitter from the outside if Twitter can:

  • Make Tweets effortless to enjoy.
  • Make it easier for all to participate.
  • Make each of us on Twitter feel heard and valuable.

Accomplishing this isn’t hard and there are obvious, concrete steps to fix it all. Done right, countless users new and old will find Twitter indispensable, use Twitter more, see great ads, buy lots of stuff, and make the company much more money along the way.”


Amazing Progress for Marriage Equality

We’ve come a long way in 28 years. A majority of states have legal same-sex marriages, and this month the Supreme Court may extend the right to marry to all couples. We’re happy to be fighting on the right side of history. Sign your name in support of marriage equality here.

Hard to Give: Friction in Online Donations


Robert Neubecker

Friction in online donations has always been a huge issue for campaigns and a dilemma for our team at Winning Mark. When it is time consuming or difficult for supporters to donate, campaigns lose supporters and dollars.

Account-based (“one-click”) donation applications like Blue State Digital, NationBuilder and the VAN provide technology that is a step in the right direction, but they are still behind the times.

One strong example of effective one-click giving is ActBlue, which provides supporters the opportunity to use a simple system, and one account, to more easily donate to various campaigns.

Carly Fiorina's "Ready  Beat Hilary" microsite iuses 'Spark" for account-based giving

Carly Fiorina’s “Ready Beat Hilary” microsite is using ‘Spark” for account-based giving

As a trusted and recognized online payment method, PayPal is still one of the best ways to simplify the process of contributing online.

Any third-party payment platform will present some friction on the campaign’s side because those donations are not necessarily tracked effectively in your existing CRM. Solutions will be needed to integrate the data, but it’s far better for the challenge to be on the campaign’s end than the donor’s end to make it as easy as possible for supporters to give and give again.

Check out a good article on mobile payment friction from the NY Times: One-Tap Giving? Extra Steps Mire Mobile Donations

Why are political campaigns still stuck with mediocre CRM and contribution software? The main tools they use for voter and supporter contact, organizing, communications, and fundraising are sadly lacking in features that are standard for non-political applications.

While others excel at features that political campaigns do not–email and other process automation, responsiveness, analytics, optimization, and low-friction payments, to name a few–these technologies have been slower to change in the political campaign sphere, and it’s primarily because campaigns do not understand, expect, or utilize these features enough to demand them from CRM providers.

Interested in the future of political campaign systems and applications?

One group that is working to speed integration and innovation is Open Supporter Data Interface.

Millennials Increasingly Supportive of Unions

New research by the Pew Research Center shows that millennials are increasingly viewing unions favorably. “The strongest supporters for unions are people under 30 years of age, people who make less than $30k a year, and African-Americans rather than whites or Hispanics,” writes Michael Byrne of the AFSCME Blog. “A challenge for unions will be mobilizing these groups politically.”

However, unions need only look to their young supporters’ social habits for the political advantage. Millennials are the most fluent and proficient users of social media in our society. With new analytics tools available to Facebook and Twitter platforms, such as the one shown below, effectively mobilizing these groups online and getting out the vote might be easier and more likely than some folks think.

In fact, the above tweet was among our most viral, and certainly one of the most quickly retweeted posts we have ever made. We feel that this is proof of the assertion made by the Pew Center research, and representative of the swift effectiveness inherent in social media outreach.

Tweet analytics show useful categories (such as impressions and retweets) and how effective the tweet has been over time.

Tweet analytics produce data that can help to increase a message’s potency and reach. This information can provide direct and immediate feedback on the effectiveness of a campaign’s outreach, a crucial advantage in any race.


Turn the Internet Red 2.0: HRC amps up social media profile pic campaign

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is again asking supporters to change their social media profile profiles to the red and pink equality logo as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments April 28 about same-sex marriage.

HRC initially launched the same effort in 2013. The campaign garnered huge attention for marriage equality efforts, and the logo was seen over 18 million times.


During the effort in 2013, we developed a Facebook app overnight (literally) on behalf of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon (PPOA). The app captured a list of Facebook users who liked or commented on posts about the red and pink logo takeover. This gave PPAO a stellar list of activists who stepped up for marriage equality as the U.S. District Court weighed in last year.

The “Red Campaign 2.0” steps up the game. This time, HRC is ready to leverage (and capitalize) on the viral campaign even more effectively. Supporters can now use a sophisticated website/app to change their profile image on Facebook and Twitter, and the flow is highly optimized to make it easy and highly viral. Perhaps most importantly, this flow also captures email addresses (and social media profiles) of supporters.

Here’s the flow when you participate in the campaign on Twitter:

For Twitter, the tool changes your profile pic, follows HRC on Twitter, and Tweets on your behalf, all in one slick swoop.

For Twitter, the tool changes your profile pic, follows HRC on Twitter, and Tweets on your behalf, all in one slick swoop.

Right before you seal the deal, HRC collects your email address. I didn't try it without email to see if that prevents completing the process.

Right before you seal the deal, HRC collects your email address. I didn’t try it without email to see if that prevents completing the process.

The process is smooth and highly effective. Kudos to @HRC.

The process is smooth and highly effective. Kudos to @HRC.

The strategy, profile image, and app work well across platforms. Check it out on Instagram:IMG_4025

Twitter rolls out “retweet with comment” feature

Twitter has officially rolled out its “retweet with comment” feature, allowing you to annotate the tweets of others. The new tool lets you embed the retweet in your own tweet, so you still get 140 characters to comment on a tweet.

Click retweet and you now get the opportunity to add 140 characters of your own comments

Click retweet and you now get the opportunity to add 140 characters of your own comments

Adding a few hashtags as comments for this retweet

Adding a few #marijuana #legalization hashtags as comments for this retweet

Study: Fundraising through online social networks: A field experiment on peer-to-peer solicitation

Abstract from the study by Marco Castillo and Ragan Petrie from the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science (ICES), Department of Economics, George Mason University, and Clarence Wardell from tinyGive, Inc. in Washington, DC:

Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise.

We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization’s web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor’s name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings:

  1. Donors respond to incentives: larger add-on donations increase the willingness to post having made a donation.
  2. Nuisance costs may be important: willingness to post is over two times higher among those already logged into FB.
  3. The type of ask matters: willingness to post via one’s wall or via a private message is different.
  4. There are benefits to incentivizing peer-to-peer fundraising in increased new donations.

Download the Full Paper (PDF)

Images on Twitter: Why do some attached images preview and others do not?

Recently, the social media management platform, Hootsuite, announced that it will be supporting for all Hootsuite Pro users. It appears that they will also be updating this support as the default setting for image sharing from any Pro-user dashboard.

This means that all pictures posted to Twitter via Hootsuite, providing the user pays the $9.99/month Pro-level rate or is at least a part of a Pro Organization, will finally be embedded in the Tweet stream as picture previews, à la natural Tweets, not merely as links.

While some may be breathing sighs of relief, others may not have known there was an issue in the first place. What is going on with our Twitter uploads, anyway?

Twitter employs the use of a simple HTML Meta tag coding system, called Twitter Cards, which allows a user to enliven their media experience by uploading summaries of linked articles, photos, and/or videos to each Tweet. When a user posts directly to Twitter, this coding system is already functioning in the basic engagement with the platform, and uploading images or videos directly to Twitter is a simple attach-and-share procedure. Problems might begin to arise, however, when a user attempts to upload media from a different social media platform, such as Facebook.instagram_comparison

Many Twitter users might notice that images shared from Instagram via Twitter appear merely as links to the photo on the Instagram website. The user is forced to click the link to see the photo, rather than observing the image preview available to direct posts in their Tweet stream. Back in 2012, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, decided to disable photo integration with Twitter Cards. Instagram supposedly wanted to create more engagement with its web platform. Regardless of the motivation, this decision is the reason why user Instagram posts to Twitter appear as links, not as embedded images.

This not-so-subtle difference apparently has radical consequences. According to an article on, research by Twitter has shown that Tweets with enlivened media receive three-to-four times more engagement than Tweets without images or video. That increased engagement is incredibly significant to those who use social media professionally, and is probably a major reason why Hootsuite users demanded compatibility from their platform. Other social media outlets, such as WordPress, have plugins available that allow for Twitter Card functionality.

Users of these and many other social media platforms may still stream Tweets that are both stunning and informative. It is usually only a question of enabling compatibility, or a simple bit of coding.

After all, amongst all those voices, it pays to be loudest.

We’re hiring a Digital Analyst (Position Filled)

UPDATE: This position has been filled.  Please contact us if you would like to be considered for future opportunities.

Digital Analyst

We are seeking a dynamic, intelligent, and fun new member to join our team at Winning Mark, a digital media agency.  We work with a variety of clients, typically including those involved with advocacy, elections, public relations, and marketing.  A partial list of our clients is available on our website.

The Digital Analyst reports to the Account Manager and provides support to staff.  You will work on projects doing research, locating and compiling social media data, identifying key campaign targets, and writing reports.  An ideal candidate will have a strong background in research and social media, with a willingness to learn new platforms and technologies.  Familiarity with basic web tools including Google Apps is a must.  We are a close-knit team that works hard but has fun.  If this sounds like you, drop us a line!

Minimum Requirements:

  • Previous research experience
  • Working proficiency in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin etc.
  • Familiarity with Google Apps and Basecamp
  • Interest in social media research and political issues
  • Ability to stay organized while dealing with many assignments
  • Readiness to learn new softwares/technologies


  • Open Immediately
  • 20 hours/week to start with full time opportunity
  • Salary commensurate with experience and fit
  • If full time, then full benefits (Health Insurance, 401k, Gym, Transit)
  • Portland, Oregon

Contact Us About this Gig: