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AARP Virginia to Host #HokiesW2K Tweetup at Virginia Tech

Event to Focus on Role of Social Media in State Elections


BLACKSBURG _ Virginia Tech students and AARP members will come together on the campus October 9 for a tweetup focusing on the role of social media in elections.


The event will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9 in the auditorium of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, located at 1015 Life Science Circle, on the corner of Washington Street and Duck Pond Road.  The auditorium is located on the lower level of the building, with an entrance near the parking lot.


Hokies Want to Know will include a roundtable conversation about how social media has influenced voters and election campaigns.  Attendees are asked to bring their smartphones and tablets to tweet during the event using the hashtag #HokiesW2K. Non-tweeters are also welcome, as are those who use Facebook or other social media platforms. The audience members’ tweets will be projected on a screen during the roundtable.  Twitter users who want to attend are asked to register via Tweetvite at  Top tweeters will win prizes and there will be food and giveaways for all participants. To find posts about the event, search for #HokiesW2K on Twitter and Facebook.


“We want to make sure students have a voice in the 2013 state elections,” said AARP Virginia State President Bob Blancato, who will serve on the roundtable.  Blancato will discuss how people over 50 are increasingly using social media and how social media activity influences voters. Blancato’s Twitter handle is @AARPVAPrez.


#HokiesW2K is part of AARP Virginia’s 2013 voter engagement campaign, We Want to Know.  The social media effort gives voters across the state an online venue for asking the candidates questions about the issues that matter to them.  All candidates running for public office in Virginia are being asked to answer the voters’ questions publicly via Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WW2K.  Tech students will be encouraged to tweet photos of themselves holding signs with their questions for the candidates.


Karen Roberto, Director or Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment at Virginia Tech, will host the #HokiesW2K event.  Bob Denton, Director of the Department of Communications, will serve as moderator.  Denton is co-author of the book Communicator-in-Chief, How Barack Obama Used New Technology to Win the White House.


Other roundtable panelists include Virginia Tech communications professor Jenn Mackay, whose Twitter handle is @jemackay, as well as Amanda Kranz of the College Republicans of Virginia Tech (@VTCRs) and Natalie Cauley of the Young Democrats of Virginia Tech (@YDVT). Mackay’s research focuses on the role of technology in journalism.  The students will discuss how their organizations use social media to support their parties’ candidates and platforms.


We Want to Know is a grassroots social media effort conducted by AARP volunteers and voters across the state.  AARP volunteers attend election-related events such as candidate town hall meetings, forums and debates as well as fairs and festivals.  Using “Flat People” props that are life-sized cutouts of AARP volunteers, the advocates give voters the opportunity to write their questions for the candidates on a white board, take the voters’ photos posing with the Flat People and post the pictures and questions on Twitter and Facebook.  The candidates are asked to answer the questions by replying to them publicly on social media.  Using the hashtag #WW2K, the questions are easily located on Facebook and Twitter.


All candidates for public office in Virginia – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and contested House of Delegates races – are targeted by the #WW2K effort.


Voters also can participate in the effort on their own by posting questions on social media, tagging the candidates and using the hashtag #WW2K.


“If a voter asks a question on Facebook or Twitter and uses the hashtag #WW2K while tagging AARP Virginia, we will make sure the candidates get those questions,” Blancato said.  Instructions on how to participate are at


Non-tweeters who wish to attend the #HokiesW2K event should register online at or by phone at 1-877-926-8300.


AARP Virginia’s Twitter handle is @AARPVa and the Facebook page is located at



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