With data collection for the 2020 Census beginning this month, the U.S. Census Bureau is turning to Internet content creators to help the Census go viral.

The Census, through the Census Open Innovation Labs, has launched Accelerate to generate public-created content to promote the census on the Internet, specifically social media. According to Accelerate’s website, it is an initiative that “matches creatives with community-based census outreach efforts to generate innovative content that speaks to hard-to-count communities about why their participation matters.”

Accelerate looks to improve Census responses by creating content that promotes stronger messages and uses trusted messengers. In regards to stronger messages, Accelerate says the program will “create awesome content that resonates with communities by taking into account their specific concerns and motivations.” Regarding the messenger portion, the Census Bureau argues that “by sharing content through organizations trusted by the communities they serve, we motivate people to participate in the 2020 Census through messages and messengers that resonate at a deep level.”

The program hosts “Create-a-thons,” where designers, content strategists, storytellers, filmmakers, and other creatives collaborate on how to create content that truly speaks to underrepresented communities. Create-a-thons have focused on creating content to count young children, the LGBT community, religious minorities, and racial minorities.

“In just a few hours, creators and organizations of all kinds work together to generate hundreds of pieces of compelling media that spread census awareness and inoculate against disinformation,” Accelerate’s website says.

Accelerate also looks to “Ambassadors,” who can either lead Create-a-thons in their communities, create content solo and share it with the larger project, or respond to specific calls for content.

The content created can be either general images designed with social media platforms – such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – in mind or images that capitalize on popular memes.

Prominent tech companies and organizations have already signed on to partner with the Census Bureau for this initiative, including Microsoft and Code for America.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.