With over 500 million users – including major media outlets and politicians – you’ve probably heard of Twitter. But are you using it effectively? Here are some basic questions and Twitter best practices and principles to get you started.
Some questions to ask if you are not already using Twitter:
- What are you already doing? Do you have a presence on social media already? What is your general online profile? If you haven’t made the fullest use of email communication or Facebook, it probably makes sense to start there – since Twitter is still a niche audience comparatively (~10% of the US population, compared to 50%+ active on Facebook)
- What’s your goal? Twitter may or may not be the right medium for what you’re trying to accomplish. With 10% of the population, it’s not necessarily the best tool for getting a message widely spread (Use Facebook for that). But it can be a great way of influencing influencers, since the media and thought leaders tend to be highly concentrated on Twitter — and often trolling for new ideas, or new takes on old ideas, as well as breaking news.
- Who would do the tweeting? Twitter can sustain but also demands a higher volume than Facebook or email. Is there someone or someones available to go on at least once a day to monitor conversations and contribute?
- What do you have to contribute? Retweets are the lifeblood of Twitter, but you also need to provide original content, complete with links, hashtags, and usernames. Does someone know how to do that? (If not, we can help.)
- What is your corner of Twitter? Certain issues like education have lots of highly active users on Twitter. You should figure out how connected your members, colleagues, targets, and bloggers and journalists are. If they are on Twitter, that’s a good argument you should be too.
OK, you’re on! What should you do? Here’s some Twitter best practices:
- Find lots of people to follow! Besides being the best way of getting people to follow you (and often one of the best ways of getting in touch with people you want to reach) it will improve the tweets you see. You can always unfollow.
- Find something to live-tweet. The whole point of Twitter is that it is very immediate. So figure out what part of your organization’s work takes place in real-time. Also, though Twitter is not as photo-driven as Facebook, it is still good to include pictures. A good tweet has at least one of a hashtag, username, picture, or link. Otherwise why tweet?
- Use your space efficiently. Using up the entire 140 characters will make it hard for some users to retweet you. Going way UNDER 140 characters will make people wonder why you bothered. Generally speaking the 100-120 character zone is the sweet spot, unless you have something devastatingly witty in its brevity.
- Try a Twitter action. You could do a Thunderclap (what’s a Thunderclap, you ask?) Or tweet at a decision-maker. Our client Environmental Action gathered member testimony and them tweeted them on the hashtag #PeopleSpeak and at the Senate Energy committee who was holding hearings on the issue. Great way to gather members’ voices, and make sure decision-makers pay attention. Plus we got a RT from Mark Ruffalo!