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Twitter Tips for Advocacy

BY Alan Rosenblatt | Wednesday, July 29 2009

I recently gave an interview about using Twitter for advocacy/marketing and wanted to share it with you. Here is the gist of the conversation:

Why tweet?

In the US alone, there are 26.5 million people on Twitter and among them are many, if not most of the most influential people in the country. These people are talking about all of the issues of the day, from the most mundane to the most profound. If you are not on Twitter, you are not part of the conversations that matter most to you and your cause, and you are missing the opportunity to engage with the people who are most able to influence large segments of the country and the key decision makers affecting your mission.

What are three simple things people can do to maximize their twitter impact?

  • Make sure your audience includes the most influential people in your issue space.
  • Be sure your tweets are engaging and valuable to your target audience, providing links to useful content, easy to use facts and talking points, and, whenever possible, are directly engaging people and conversations already in progress on Twitter.
  • Be human! Make sure people can see that there is a real, live, caring person behind your tweets.

Explain the importance of the hashtag and the retweet.

  • Hashtags (#text) are how Twitter aggregates conversations and creates affinity groups. They are completely informal (you can make them up on the spot). Within a tweet, a hashtag is a link to a search query. So, if you click on #iranelection in a tweet, for example, it takes you to a results page for that hashtag, where you can see what everyone is saying about that topic. Why else use them? Because hashtags get your tweets in front of new audiences, people who are not already following you.
  • Retweeting is a way to share the love on Twitter. When you see a tweet you like, retweeting it (reposting it with attribution to the original source): 1) Shares the information in the tweet with your audience (and hashtag audiences you might add), 2) Creates a deeper connection between you and the original tweeter, and 3) Helps grow your audience and enhance your reputation as a member of the Twitter community.

How important is twitter as a marketing tool?

  • Twitter is essential for monitoring real-time reactions to your brand and issues.
  • Twitter is a real-time response channel to deepen your relationship with your constituents, customers, and friends.
  • Twitter is a great channel to get new ideas and products into the market, to create a buzz about what you are doing, really fast.

What are the biggest mistakes people make using twitter to get attention for their cause?

  • Writing tweets without conveying value to audience. For example, tweeting what the important point of an article you are linking to is better than just tweeting the title and the link. That is why auto feeds to Twitter don’t do well unless the headlines are written for Twitter.
  • Tweeting too much or too little. Too much varies depending on the quality of your tweets. The more valuable the information, the more often you can tweet. Too little tweeting means your tweets fall off your audience’s radar and you lose their attention.