This weekend, I’m venturing into the District to take in Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.” I’ve stocked up on all the essentials: tortilla chips, fruit snacks, beef jerky, Gatorade, batteries for Catch Phrase, and a deck of cards. You know, usual fare for a mock political rally.
But, what kind of self-proclaimed social media nerd would I be if I didn’t take a deeper dive into the digital components Stewart/Colbert used to build awareness for tomorrow’s rally? After all, social media is how the whole event came to be a reality.
Organizing the Movement via Social Media
A little over a month ago, Reddit.com user mrsammercer shared a dream he had where Colbert hosted a rally in response to Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor march. The post became wildly popular and within days a Facebook group and website were created to mobilize supporters in hopes Colbert would agree to host the rally.
Reddit users joined forces, and in just one day, donated more than $100,000 to DonorChoose.org, the charity Colbert serves as a board member. Colbert took notice, recognizing the online community’s efforts on his nationally televised show.
In mid-September, the social media movement proved successful when both Stewart and Colbert announced they would host rallies in Washington, D.C.
Building Awareness for the Event Online
When you think about it, Stewart and Colbert’s rallies have gained furious momentum in just 30 days. Granted, the popularity of these two combined with nationally televised programming reaching millions of viewers certainly helped promote the cause. However, social media certainly played a role in maintaining excitement, spreading information, and building even more awareness (I learned about the news from a friend’s Facebook status).
Both Colbert and Stewart’s camps have made good use of Twitter as well as created websites. I particularly enjoy the Sanity site’s “Sane or Not" application, enabling people to upload posters they have made to see whether they are, in fact, "sane."
Maybe even more compelling than the websites is the support from MeetUp.com the joint rallies have received. According to the Rally4Sanity and March4Fear branded-site on MeetUp, neither Colbert nor Steward have officially endorsed this relationship, but both hosts’ websites link to it. While I can’t say for sure if this is a confirmed partnership, the concept is remarkable because it allows people around the world who can’t descend upon the District to still take part in the event.
Bringing the Online World Offline
When the rallies happen tomorrow, many who have been following along online will end up in the same place… offline either on the National Mall in DC or at local MeetUps around the country. The social media efforts don’t stop the day of the rally, though. There are several initiatives happening Saturday for attendees and those who can’t attend including:
Needless to say, I am highly anticipating tomorrow to see how everything plays out.
Now, I better upload my slogan to make sure it’s sane enough…
(image credit: xkcd)