Across the country, newspapers are buzzing about new technology that allows a driver to make a little extra money providing safe transportation in their own vehicles.
As rideshare companies like Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber have become ubiquitous in many metropolitan cities, governments and transportation commissions have fought back with broad policy decisions that limit ridesharing. These limitations are arguably based on the need to protect consumer safety, but rideshare companies argue that these “knee-jerk” reactions are actually hindering small businesses and protecting what many call transportation monopolies in cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago.
With city councils and taxi industries trying to shut down ridesharing services in several cities, these ridesharing companies have taken to “grassroots” campaigns using social media as their soapbox. And predictably, consumers have responded in abundance. Here in Seattle – and across the country – the movement has started to take hold on social.
Uber Seattle rolled out its #SAVEuberXsea hashtag in September 2013 with a blog post announcing their campaign. Since then, users have increasingly adopted the hashtag on Twitter as a means of showing their support.
Not only that, their social messaging positions consumers as agents for social change – helping support small businesses, women, and families.
Lyft has taken a similar route with their #SaveLyftSeattle hashtag, and Sidecar with their #SaveSidecarSeattle hashtag. And users are supporting these companies by sharing out Twitter and Facebook statuses, and actively tweeting and tagging Seattle City Council. Users are also tagging Lyft in photos and short videos on Twitter using the #WhyILyft hashtag. In many cases, Twitter users are taking it upon themselves to support the campaign in their own way – as evidenced by the proliferation of rallies organized over social networks, the number of signatures on petitions to save rideshares, and the number of Tweets like these…
In fact, using the Simply Measured Conversation Driver analysis, we can see that in the last week, the @SeattleCouncil handle was tagged in 24% of Tweets that mentioned one of the rideshare businesses.
Looking even closer, our keyword analysis shows that many of the keyword associations in these hashtag campaigns are negative – including terms like “taxi mafia” and “artificial capping”.
Meanwhile, Lyft has announced that it’s expanding service in the Seattle region to include over 1300 square miles that covers both Seattle and Tacoma, and Uber has been interested in doing the same. So now the question is – is Seattle City council listening to these constituents who have taken up the cause for rideshares? We’ll find out after the vote on March 17th.