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CPBJ Extra Blog

Using Twitter for town hall an interesting tactic

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If you're on Twitter, this headline probably (well, hopefully, anyway) intrigued you. If you're not, you're probably rolling your eyes right now.

But whether you're a tweeter or a tweet-hater, you must admit that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf's Twitter town hall Friday was an interesting tactic for his campaign.

First, some facts: As of 2012, only about 15 percent of online Americans were signed up for Twitter, and only about 8 percent used it daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. (If you really like statistics, click here for even more about Twitter.)

Second, Twitter allows only 140 characters per tweet. That means that, in every reply, Wolf — a York County businessman who is taking time off from running his family's business to campaign — had to tag the person who asked the question, use the #Wolfchat hashtag for those who were following the chat, and still get his views and appropriate links in there. That sounds to me like you'd be running a huge risk of having an answer taken out of context and blasted for weeks to come.

Third, Twitter's demographics skew toward your traditionally Democratic groups anyway: The standouts for high Twitter usage among their peers are African-Americans, young adults, and urban and suburban residents, according to the Pew project.

So was the roughly one hour Wolf spent on Friday answering 16 questions — including one from the state GOP party account — a worthwhile use of his campaign time?

I've got to say yes.

Let's look at it from a marketing standpoint: He hit a niche of his overall target group. He used a tool that group finds useful (and used it correctly, too, which is key). He chose a platform his dissenters also had access to, and he handled their question with a straightforward answer.

In short, Wolf held the equivalent of an old-school-style town hall meeting and received about the same amount of interaction.

To see a compilation of the tweets from the chat, click here.

Wolf is competing for the Democratic nomination to run again Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall election. He is competing for the nomination against John Hanger, former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection; Jo Ellen Litz, Lebanon County commissioner; Rob McCord, state treasurer; Kathleen McGinty, former secretary of the state DEP; Max Myers, businessman and former pastor; Ed Pawlowski, Allentown mayor; and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at amy@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @amygulli. Circle Amy Gulli on .

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