We talk a lot about the use of social media for advocacy campaigns here at Beekeeper Group, but yesterday we saw a local issue absolutely explode on the interwebs. The resulting tsunami of tweets, Facebook posts, and emails directed at the District of Columbia Council forced them to backpedal a proposed piece of legislation that would have imposed an inflated minimum base fare for the smart-phone dispatched sedan service, Uber.
Uber responded to this threat to their business model in the same way that made the company popular with DC residents in the first place – with technology and efficiency. Two qualities that many in our city feel DC cabs are sorely lacking. Utilizing the company’s blog, Uber reached out to their followers to help garnish support for their business. The results were impressive.
In less than 24 hours, Uber saw:
- 4,300 signatures on one Change.org petition
- 50,000+ e-mails sent on their behalf to DC Councilmembers
- Over 1,200 tweets of their blog post
- More than 1,000 Facebook “likes”
This doesn’t even take into consideration the millions of impressions through news coverage that was generated via this social media activism, which was highlighted in The New York Times, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and more.
How did they accomplish this legislative coup? Through people power and the connections fostered over social media. The Uber blog provided Twitter links to local DC council members, links to petition sites, and of course, news links – all of which stoked outrage and directed it at those who were attempting to regulate a beloved service out of existence.
Here are few tweets that made a difference, including some from us!
- Mike Panetta (@mikepanetta): I hope @murielbowser @cataniapress @vincentorangedc @cmmichaelabrown don’t vote 2 kill @uber tomorrow.http://tinyurl.com/7jsykyl #UberDCLove
- Shana Glickfield (@dcconcierge): Please strike down the anti-@Uber_DC amendment @TommyWells – I’m a Ward 6 voter!! And you too @marycheh @jimgrahamward1@jackevansward2 Thx!
- Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse): uber.com for a better, smarter way to hire a car. Hard to believe but D.C. Council may vote to keep your fares high. #UberDCLove
- Gerrit Lansing (@LansingG): Can’t make it up: DC taxicabs are having DC gov’t prevent @Uber_DC from LOWERING their prices #UberDCLove
- David Feddoso (@feddoso): UBER language stripped from the DC Taxi bill #UberDCLove
- Nathaniel Heller (@Integrilicious): The proposed protectionist regulation of @Uber_DC is ridiculous. Taxis already stink in the city, so hey, let’s make ‘em worse! #UberDCLove
After the legislation was tabled, Uber responded by crediting their supporters and asking them to thank their respective Councilmembers. What remains from this conflict is the greater ideological debate between the permission business model vs. the innovation model. That argument isn’t being settled anytime soon, but all the public support is a clear victory for Uber.
By activating their user base, Uber has become the new poster child for showcasing social media as a way for citizens to affect change from their elected leaders.