Back in August, Twitter launched “Fast Follow,” a feature that uses SMS to allow people to follow Twitter accounts even if they haven't signed up for the social networking service. But the feature, which some thought would extend Twitter’s audience, never really caught on.
Now, hours before co-hosting its first GOP debate of the year with Bloomberg TV, The Washington Post is launching a Fast Follow account called @postelections, which it's hoping it can use to connect with readers who haven't yet gotten on the Twitter bandwagon.
“Only 13 percent of our audience is on Twitter, and we do so much that way,” said Cory Haik, the Post’s executive producer of news innovations and strategic projects. Haik, who also sits on the board of the Online News Association, says that figure is the industry standard for newspapers. For all the work print publications are doing to stay up-to-speed on social media, most readers aren’t even seeing it.
“I thought, 'Can we create a Twitter feed that pushes out our election content via SMS?,'” Haik went on. “So we created a feed where we’re going to offer an alert system, via Twitter, by way of SMS.”
The account—tied to the Post’s “Election 2012” blog, which launched Monday—will be carefully curated, Haik says, so as not to flood followers’ phones.