Taming the Blue Bird and the Whale! How to use Twitter for a cause, pros and limitations?
By the time we are discussing this right now, twitter.com will have already welcomed its 525 millionth user globally. In Mauritius, we still do not have stats, but some companies like Modus Operandi are working to have a sharp map of social media platforms and networks locally.
Twitter has become an inseparable part of any campaign’s Social Media strategy. Why? Simply because it responds to the immediacy and urgency factor that propels today’s information. Twitter is a 24/7 live, real time chatter box, where global information from all sectors is swapped and exchanged within seconds all over the planet or through a given community. It is the ideal medium for Marching Orders. Twitter is the 3rd Millennium’s equivalent of the Radio on the Internet.
Today, Politicians and Popstars use this social platform as the mirror of their backstage to give them a more human touch, while Corporates and Associations use Twitter as the direct communication relay with their customers and adherents.
Yes, Twitter is a must in any campaign where social media strategy is at the heart of the communication process. And yes again, It’s true even for Mauritius and for her NGOs.
WHAT IS TWITTER ABOUT ?
Twitter is about delivering precise information within 140 characters. Even if the platform has evolved to become an image and video server too, the main quality of Twitter is its capacity to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime. Thanks to its sense of immediacy and urgency Twitter helps at answering one basic and recurrent question: “What are you doing right now?”
This question can be relevant to an individual, to a company, an association, a community etc., as it can be the start of a rich pitch session, that would be made accessible to a community and beyond.
This is why it is so popular amongst politically or socially active entities. It allows to be present on all fronts.
But the interest for having a Twitter account goes beyond the simple Chat factor. It can be a powerful measuring tool to generate stats about your community’s potential or to simply know about the general mood of people rallying to your cause. It can also be an excellent interests sharing tool also.
Twitter is not only a great way to supplement your online and offline efforts to reach out to new people, but also a great way to humanize and endear your cause.
HOW AND WHERE TO USE TWITTER?
The outburst of Smartphones and smartphone Apps has boosted Twitter out of the cosy PC homebox. This has brought tweeting out of the regular desktop setup and has contributed to its phenomenal success. Smartphone tweeting also erases time slots barriers and offers a plain wide world of communication.
Using it in a social campaign definitely means an omnipresence to respond immediately to any kind of query. Empowering your association’s members is definitely a way to ensure online permanence and e-reputation monitoring. This is crucial for your credibility.
But mind you, you won’t build a busy network overnight. It will take everybody’s effort to achieve this.
How to start?
- First register a personal Twitter account.
- Register a corporate or association Twitter account and be the first to follow that account. Be sure to have only ONE Corporate Account.
- Link your corporate website to your Corporate Twitter Account so as to tweet-share any of your site’s new content.
- Your first tweets must be about your cause or campaign and about inviting your family and friends to ‘follow” your account first (within 140 characters).
- Tell your followers to invite their followers to follow you.
- Search for similar groups and causes using hashtags, and follow them
- Tweet and link about your online presence. Tell about your website and your Facebook Page, other Pinterest, flickr accounts… etc.
- Start tweeting about your next steps (make announcements).
- Develop and Tweet Teasers.
- Comment shortly on news relevant to your cause or campaign.
This is a nice way to start and get into the big splash, but there is still more to do to retain attention.
BUILD AND TWEET YOUR HASHTAGS AND MAKE USE OF MENTIONS.
The term Hashtag may seem a geeky, almost barbarian word, it’s still a simple but powerful means to focus on a subject relevant to your cause, campaign or interest. It can be used to start a survey, a mood search and in statistical operations too.
A hashtag is a term in a tweet that is preceeded by the # sign. It helps at searching any related conversation (like in: I love #socialmedia) or to start a conversation on a precise topic. There is also the @ sign which is the direct link to a specific Twitter user (like in: happy to be with @alainbertrandmu) or even to precisely telling about your activities (like in: I am going to learn about #socialmedia from @modusoperandimauritius).
Mentions are terms (generally an account name) preceded by the @ like in @alainbertrandmu. They serve as a direct call or question, invitation or information to a specific user. One tweet can contain several of these.
DOS AND DONTS
- Follow, a few but, as many people as you can on Twitter that are relevant to your campaign, cause or interests. Use the Search feature along with carefully chosen hashtags. e.g #sustainabledevelopment
- Tweet about interesting subjects. Be most original in your formulation. Attract attention !
- In conversations, talk to general users about THEIR interest and motivation. Show how human your cause is, your campaign can be.
- Check out accounts before indulging into one-to-one or long-threaded conversations.
- Put your corporate Twitter link on your website and advertise it on each and every piece of stationery or promotional item you distribute and diffuse.
NOT-TO-DO at all…
- Be sure of what you tweet. Social Media is no common medium. If you can shred a document, on the Internet what you say, write and comment is here to stay forever and will dug out at the least expected moment. Don’t talk or comment about things you don’t know about. NEVER !
- Never respond violently, even when personal attacks are flung at you relentlessly. If you can’t respond ask for rescue and help from people with experience in dealing with situations. Do not ask for a novice to help. It will only complicate matters.
- Do not tweet just for the sake of Tweeting. You will bore your followers.
- Do not follow too many peeps.
- Do not think of twitter as a Fund raising Machine ever. It is a support raising machine.
That’s it for now ! Feel free to ask more
This work by Alain BERTRAND is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. It can be shared, reblogged at will.
- 5 Advanced Twitter Tips for Your Small Business (openforum.com)
- The Anatomy of a Tweet: Twitter Basics (sheehy1.com)
- Step one for using Twitter as a reporter: Master advanced search (stevebuttry.wordpress.com)