Help EPA Try Out a New Social Tool: Thunderclap?

We (EPA, that is) are using a new tool called Thunderclap. Thunderclap is one of the systems where GSA negotiated fed-friendly terms of service, and EPA signed it a month or two ago. I think it has HUGE potential.

How it works:

1) An organizer creates a message to be shared and a date/time it’ll go out. They also choose a goal: how many people have to sign up for the message to go out. If you fall short, nothing goes out. All of that goes on a page on the Thunderclap site.

2) People sign into Thunderclap and allow it to post that specific message at the specified time. They can choose any combination of their FB, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds. That is, Thunderclap does the posting, but it looks like it’s coming from people who signed up. It’s like a virtual flash mob, with the message going out all at once from everyone who’s signed up.

I know it sounds like there might be privacy concerns, but we never get any info from anyone who signs up, other than their profile name that they choose when they join Thunderclap. Everything happens between them and Thunderclap (similar to a FB page, where you can see only the name of your fans).

We chose to focus on children’s health because October is Children’s Health Month. Here’s how our first Thunderclap will work:

The message: You protect your kids from strangers and bullies. What about harmful pollutants?

The date/time: Oct. 31 at 2:00 EDT.

The goal: 500 people

Our page:

Following my own mantra of “mission, tool, metrics, teach,” here’s how I see it:

Mission: protect kids’ health, particularly by getting information to caregivers about steps they can take.

Tool: We’re using Thunderclap to serve the mission by spreading the word that information for caregivers exists. We’re using email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and our blog to advertise the thunderclap.

Metrics: how many people sign up and their total social reach (sum of followers and fans across all signups and all channels), how much we exceed the goal (to help us set a better goal next time). Also, how much lead time we allowed (3 days) and total reach of outreach efforts advertising the thunderclap.

Teach: this note, a blog post on GovLoop, a followup I’ll write reporting how it went, and maybe a webinar for the gov’t web community.

If you’re so inspired (esp. if you’re at EPA, this is NOT direction to do so – it’s completely voluntary), sign up both to support us and to see how it works. 🙂


Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Peter Sperry

“Thunderclap does the posting, but it looks like it’s coming from people who signed up.”

So the source of the message is disguising themselves from the recipients of the message as well as any third party public interest groups who may have an interest in how government agencies communicate with citizens and where they cross the line from informing to propoganda.

Sounds like way cool technology. How do you intend to explain it to Congressional oversight committees?

Jeffrey Levy

Peter: we regularly ask people to share our information. This is simply an automated way of doing that. Also, the link provided in the message goes to an EPA page. There’s no secret who’s providing the information.

On the front end (which I realize isn’t exactly your point), our name and seal are shown as the organizer. We’re also leaving quite a visible online trail, promoting it via Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, and email.