In January, long before SunRail started its fight in the Florida Senate, I was surprised that no one was using the power of social media to build support.
I knew that Facebook was a powerful tool to reach out to the public. It creates an affinity group with strong ties to a particular organization. Using Facebook, I wanted to show those in power that Floridians truly care about transportation and wanted SunRail.
The first step was determining a goal. 1,000 supporters just aren’t that impressive, but 1 million supporters were just too much. So I settled on what I thought was a realistic goal: 10,000 supporters.
The next step was creating a group. That was the easiest thing about this Facebook journey. Creating a group, cause of fan page is simple. Just click on “Create a new group” and fill in the blanks. My group, Let’s Find 10,000 Floridians Who Support SunRail, was started in minutes.
Finally, it was time to start viral marketing. At the time, I had a little over 400 friends and I spent the next two hours inviting all of my Floridian friends to join. I also asked that each one of them invited all their Floridian friends to join as well.
The response was impressive. By the time I had finished inviting all of my friends, there were already more than 100 people in the group – many of them not invited by me. Already people with no mutual friends were joining the group.
The process was working.
Over the two weeks, it was incredible. I would refresh my page every few minutes and someone new would have joined the group. During one time period, we were averaging over 100 new members per hour!
The best part was that these were everyday people from all across Florida. In fact, only 48% of the people who joined were from Orlando. The next highest numbers were from Tampa and South Florida. There were retirees, business people, students, homemakers and Floridians from every walk of life.
There were discussions about SunRail being posted. People were asking questions. I made new friends across the state who were incredible supporters of the cause. I felt with this kind of response, there was no way that our State Senate would be able to vote no.
After all, the anti-SunRail Facebook group could only muster 330 members and I had 8,000.
So, I did what any responsible citizen of Florida should do, I wrote to the following members of the Florida Senate who were supposed swing votes:
- Ted Deutch – Delray Beach
- Eleanor Sobol – Hallandale Beach
- Chris Smith – West Palm Beach
- Jeremy Ring – Margate
- Dan Gelber – Miami
- Charlie Justice – St. Petersburg
- Dave Aronberg – West Palm Beach
- Al Lawson – Minority Dem Leader
- Gary Siplin – Orlando
- Don Gaetz – Ft. Walton Beach
- Evelyn Lynn – Daytona Beach
- Victor Crist – Tampa
- Jim King – Jacksonville
- Steve Oelrich – Gainesville
Amazingly, other than an automated response saying they were busy and would respond shortly, not one of those Senators took the time to write back.
A few of those Senators eventually voted for SunRail, but as you know, SunRail failed to pass the last day of session.
Social media showed the will of the people. Too bad the Florida Senate chose to ignore it.
Article by Alan Byrd