The White House is once again turning to Twitter to champion a cause and shame their political rivals. They’ve asked Twitter users what #40dollars means to them, in response to the House Republicans rejecting a Senate compromise to extend a payroll tax cut earlier this week. And within hours, #40dollars became a trending topic.
At first glance, $40 doesn’t sound like a number that the White House should be rallying around. It’s so small! And the tax deal would see the average American earning $50,000 a year pay $1,000 more in taxes annually.
But they know their audience.
Tweeting from the @WhiteHouse account, they wanted to know what $40 every two weeks means to the average American, because that’s what they’ll see garnished from their paychecks. And $40 every two weeks is tangible – it’s a movie night with the significant other, gas to get to work, or diapers for their newborn.
As the New York Times blog reports, the #40dollar hashtag was started on the @WhiteHouse Twitter account with the following question on Tuesday:
— The White House (@whitehouse) December 20, 2011
And after the President’s own @BarackObama Twitter account – which has nearly 12 million followers – tweeted the same question, the campaign blew up.
It reached trending topic status on Tuesday, and is still going strong. In fact, according to Macon Phillips, the White House director of new media, messages containing that hashtag were coming in at about 2,000 per hour at its peak.
It’s easy to visualize what $40 means in your life – whether it’s a new video game or just what you put away for your savings every two weeks. The White House was able to find success on Twitter by asking users how losing this $40 would impact their life: a question that thousands were eager to answer.