Leveraging Social Media to Defend Democracy

Overview

Media Cause has partnered with the Brennan Center for Justice since 2018 on social media content and community engagement strategy. The Brennan Center leverages social media as a way to educate the public, engage with their supporters, and drive meaningful online actions to defend our democracy, focusing on critical issues such as protecting the right to vote, safeguarding our elections, ending mass incarceration, and advancing constitutional change.

As a high-profile think tank that addresses the most important policy and social justice issues of our time, the Brennan Center needed a strong social media strategy for amplifying their owned and third-party content across channels, leaving ample room to be agile with rapid response to press opportunities. 

The Outcome

As the U.S. prepares for a presidential election in the face of a global pandemic, the issues that the Brennan Center addresses – including securing our elections, protecting vulnerable prison populations, and keeping emergency powers in check – are all the more important. Ensuring that every person can exercise their right to vote, and do it safely, will be critical to the foundations of our democracy and human rights, and the Brennan Center remains on the forefront of this fight. Communicating with the public about these issues will become even more pivotal for the Brennan Center in achieving its objectives.

The Strategy

We developed a community engagement and social media content strategy to communicate the Brennan Center’s positions on a wide variety of social justice topics, elevating their experts and engaging with like-minded organizations, all while staying in their brand voice and thought leadership. 

Through careful content analysis, sourcing, copywriting, and distribution, supported by intentional community management, we helped the Brennan Center for Justice reach nearly 36 million people with information about important social justice issues, resources, and action opportunities, such as:

  • The victory of voting rights restoration in Kentucky by newly elected Governor Andy Beshear, where Brennan Center voting rights lawyers and advocates were working on the ground.
  • The Brennan Center’s lawsuit against the Trump administration over unconstitutional social media surveillance of U.S. visa applicants.
  • An election resource and #ProtectTheVote petition to Congress for $2 billion in election security funding prior to the November 2020 elections.
Implementation

Celebrating a Voting Rights Victory in Kentucky

When the newly elected Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky was expected to restore the right to vote to over 100,000 Kentuckians, the Brennan Center was ready to share the news as soon as the executive order was signed. With criminal justice reform and voting rights being key issues of the Brennan Center, it was all hands on deck to prepare existing Brennan Center content and source and repurpose new media mentions as soon as they were published. Over the course of 24 hours, we generated over 84,000 impressions and 5,300 engagements with this content, far surpassing Brennan Center averages:

  • 73,257 impressions on Twitter (+54% above average)
  • 11,504 impressions on Facebook (+81% above average)
  • 2,661 engagements on Twitter (+225%)
  • 2,629 engagements on Facebook (+240%)
Implementation

Suing the Trump Administration to Protect First Amendment Rights

When the Trump administration announced they would start requiring U.S. visa applicants to disclose their social media information, the Brennan Center stepped in to sue the federal government for violation of First Amendment rights on behalf of a group of international documentary filmmakers. As a lawsuit that touched many different sectors, including the entertainment industry, the topic got a lot of press coverage, including outlets like the Hollywood Reporter. We employed rapid content sourcing and publishing strategies to send nearly 150 messages on this issue over the course of a month.

Implementation

Petitioning Congress to #ProtectTheVote

In October 2019, the Brennan Center published an in-depth report detailing the critical need for more election security funding ahead of the 2020 elections in order to protect the U.S. vote from foreign interference. In addition to outlining the need for $2.2 billion in additional funding from Congress, the Brennan Center’s report and subsequent content also outlined steps that election officials could take to protect the vote from cyberattacks.

With election security as a staple of their core issue areas, we developed a social strategy to elevate the Brennan Center’s petition to #ProtectTheVote, calling on their supporters to sign on and advocate for more election security funding from Congress. Through detailed content analysis and reporting, we found that the #ProtectTheVote campaign was one of the most successful in terms of audience engagement, and extended the campaign beyond its original deadline – collecting thousands of petition signatures and engaging with hundreds of thousands as a result of our efforts.

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