Centre College students are hoping to set a new Twitter record by beating the number of debate-related tweets during the vice-presidential debate tonight.
“I think it’s a goal we can achieve,” Centre student and Twitter team member Elizabeth Trollinger said.
According to Adam Sharp, head of government, news and social innovation for Twitter Inc., the Denver record came in at 10.3 million tweets during the 90-minute presidential debate. That’s a staggering number and, he believes, the implications are huge.
By using hashtags such as #debates, people have been able to follow the conversation on Twitter. More than that, they’ve been able to direct the conversation.
“We’re able to tell the story of what’s happening at these events,” Sharp said, explaining that people can join in to what's being said and the feed can draw the story.
Shortly after the school was selected to host the vice-presidential debate, a request for students interested in joining the “Twitter team” was posted. The response was great, giving Centre a team of more than 50 students.
The hashtag #CentreVPdebate has been promoted by the team. Trollinger says they’ve had 50 to 75 individual accounts using the hashtag, and that number is expected to “increase exponentially.”
“We’ve had Centre students studying abroad trying to retweet, too,” she said.
Alisha Russell, one of students on the team, says it’s been fun to be included.
“It’s an inside take on it. That’s exciting to be able to share with people what’s happening on Centre’s campus,” she said, explaining that she has tweeted photos that would generally never make it on a traditional news broadcast.
Russell also believes that allowing the students to tweet for the Twitter team offers a less-than-serious take on the pre-debate happenings.
For other students, such as Danielle Ryan, being included in the Twitter team has made them more politically responsible.
“This has made me more politically literate, more involved,” Ryan said.
She’s also been able to meet more of her fellow students, as she’s spread the word about the Twitter team and gained a greater insight that she can use in the classroom. Being a sociology major, she explains they frequently look at studies regarding whether or not people know the truth behind their candidates.
“By getting this out there, my classmates and I will be more aware,” she said.
Beyond that, the VP debate and the hashtag serve as ways to get the Centre name out there in a positive light, according to CJ Donald, another team member and Centre student.
“Anyone can see it,” he said.
By searching for #CentreVPdebate, Donald says people can see all the information that’s been given regarding the debates. “It shows that Centre has a big role in this.”
Being an avid tweeter, he loves it when the school retweets something he’s posted, because “you get a new follower.” It’s also enabled him to connect with journalists around the world.
One of the youngest members of the team is Daniel Wicker, who is a first-year student at Centre. He relates the debate to a college game day that larger universities are sometimes able to get.