Tweeting for a cause: Professor garners viral attention

"Wow I can't believe this is why Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson broke up," read a tweet sent out Oct. 14 by Tim Cigelski, director of social media for Marquette University. Thousands of people clicked the link on the tweet, trying to gain insight into the celebrity drama. But everyone who clicked the link was redirected to a voter registration page, Vote.org. Graphic by Clara Janzen

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“Wow I can’t believe this is why Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson split up,” read a tweet sent Oct. 14 by Tim Cigelske, Marquette’s director of social media.

Thousands of people clicked the link on the tweet, trying to gain insight into the celebrity drama. But everyone who clicked the link was redirected to a voter registration page, Vote.org.

According to its website, Vote.org uses technology to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout and strengthen American democracy.

Cigelske said he knew the tweet had potential to get a lot of attention, but was shocked at the final result: over 50,000 retweets, 80,000 likes and 2.3 million total impressions as of Oct. 29.

“When I saw celebrities like Ashton Kutcher retweet it, then I knew, ‘Wow, this is going to be a big one,'” Cigelske said.

“Clever punk,” Kutcher tweeted.

Mary Czech-Mrochinski from the university’s office of public affairs said the university has been helping provide assistance to students regarding voter registration for years.

“The university is providing door hangers in the residence halls and university-owned apartments that list the ward a student will vote at and what documentation the student needs to have to register to vote,” Czech-Mrochinski  said in an email.

Cigelske, who teaches courses on social media in the College of Communication, said the tweeting technique is something he teaches his students.

“People are curious,” he said. “I originally was going to use a different event, but I saw how the conversation (about Ariana Grande) just took over the internet and I knew it was the perfect moment.”

Reactions to the tweet varied, with many Twitter users expressing slight shame at their eagerness to click.

“I was pleased to see people replying with screenshots that they registered to vote, because I mean, that was the goal,” Cigelske said.

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