Throughout all of the political back-and-forth this week stood an Amendment on the ballot for Solar energy users within the state of Florida. The bill, entitled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” was a Utility-backed bill being pushed forward by a $20 million campaign.
This misleading title aimed to end tax rebates to solar customers, eliminate the requirement for the utility companies to buy back excess power from solar-powered homes and raise fees for existing users of solar. Bi-partisan opponents quickly sprung into action forming the “Floridians for Solar Choice” organization. Their goal was simple: to outmaneuver the Utility companies with the power of Virality.
Utility & Strategy
The utility companies were well funded. Their marketing campaign covered all of the bases they needed to:
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM),
- a basic website to inform the public on their agenda,
- an aggressive Pay-per Click (PPC) campaign geared at drawing voters to their website (Editors note: I did see an Ad on mobile but failed to capture the screenshot),
- a social campaign positioned to draw awareness and
- cohesive yet “deceptive” branding elements across all channels
But their Digital Marketing efforts simply weren’t enough.
All in all, their social channels (FB, Twitter, Instagram) had over 34,000 followers and page likes.
This is a pretty substantial number given the amount of effort involved in growing a community that size with a presence (originally branded Consumers for Smart Solar) that was created just over a year ago in July of 2015.
Grassroots & Viral
Out of all possible places, I first came across information about the Amendment on Instagram.
I was intrigued. Someone I know, who isn’t political by nature, posting something against the Amendment. I immediately Googled it to see what it was about, already approaching it with my own bias because it was recommended by a close friend. The Grassroots movement to oppose this Amendment was unfolding…all on social media.
People started to tweet about the Amendment. They adopted #SolarUprising as their official hashtag and the message began to spread. Soon news outlets began to pick up the story.
By the Numbers
Through Tweets and Re-Tweets alone, over 430,000 people were exposed to messaging against Amendment 1. Granted this wasn’t all localized to Florida, but the breadth of the messaging still remains. Take a look at the chart below:
211 accounts, pushed the message to over 400,000 people garnering some 706,000 impressions.
The voice of a few, helped educate the many.
The Amendment, needing 60% to become Florida law, only got 51% of the vote. A $20 million campaign was upset by a small minority of dedicated individuals. Let that sit with you for a moment.
This is the power of viral content.