The ACA is quickly becoming the policy on everyone’s mind in the first 100 days of the Trump administration. Democrats are committed to saving it, and (most) Republicans are vying to repeal it. What happens next could define Trump’s presidency, and the future of many law makers. Most importantly though, are the people that will be affected by changes to this legislation. It’s hard to make sense of the impact that changes to the ACA might have on people when all we keep hearing is large figures like 20 or 30 million people affected. The number is obviously large, but if you are in favor of keeping the ACA, how do you make that big number more sticky? How do you make people that perhaps don’t understand the intricacies of the ACA fully understand the impact of repealing the law? While some in congress wrote white papers, or appeared on Meet The Press to deliver their stock talking points…Jason Kander did something a little different.
Jason Kander, former Secretary of State of Missouri and emerging leader in the democratic party, ‘quote retweeted’ a post from Politics Nation to amplify the fact that 30 million people could lose coverage if the ACA were repealed. This sparked some of his followers to respond to him with how the repeal of ACA would affect them. Kander began retweeting these responses (see his tweet and the first responses above).
People noticed he was retweeting and so they started replying with their story too. About an hour later, he wrote to everyone that he was about to have dinner with his family but encouraged them to keep sending responses (see image above). That night he received hundreds of responses. Each response was a short (less than 140 characters), meaningful and authentic story. They were taking that 30 million number and connecting it to actual stories.
How Kander Built a Storytelling Army
Kander did a few things that made this possible. You can’t simply sit back and hope for something like this to happen, you have to do a few things to create the environment for this to be possible. Here are the lessons we can learn from Kander’s army of storytellers.
- Engage with your followers. Kander had a track record of replying or retweeting his followers. He may not be at a “Cory Booker Level” of engagement, but he does it more than most politicians. Many politicians, and leaders, look at social media as a one sided thing. They use it like a digital bulletin board where they can post their thoughts and promote their initiatives, but they don’t engage. When you engage, you create an environment where things like this can happen. People feel welcomed to reply to you, and so they do.
- Act quick & in the moment. Kander retweeted those first few responses within minutes of receiving them. Then, when he was on a roll he just kept at it. This shows authenticity, like you actually are the one tweeting not some staff member or tweet scheduler like Buffer. When his followers saw that he was paying attention and acting in the moment, they wanted to be a part of it so more and more replied. Even his note about dinner is important. It shows, “hey, I am loving this! I gotta do something else, but I will be back so keep going.” That is critical to getting the number of replies he received.
- Amplify your audience. The best thing Kander did was get out of the way. He let his followers tell the story. If you want to get constituents to buy into a policy or law you’re hoping to pass, you can’t be the only mouth piece for it. Leverage your followers and let them help you tell the story.
It remains to be seen at this point what will happen to the ACA. But, I can tell you that the path for democrats is not paved in white papers and talking points. Storytelling will be critical, and digital platforms instantly connect you with millions of stories.