Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Suggestions for Successful Twitter Activism

Intentional social media for activism: pace/frequency, reciprocity/sharing, lists, visuals, and connecting/links all play a part.

Twitter: get the word out!
I think every peace activist should be extremely intentional about using social media: there is unprecedented power available to us through this tool.

Being intentional requires us to ask what is really effective, to make efforts to become more effective. and to learn from what happens along the way.

I've been trying to do this for years now: my very first post on this blog was entitled "Goal for November: Figure Out Twitter". That was in 2009.

Along the way, I've learned some things about Twitter related to:

I've included some notes about each below. As you'll see, it's a work in progress. I've included some links to helpful resources, in the hopes that I've whet your appetite to learn more . . . !

I hope that we can all learn from each other to become super-effective social media users!

(1) Pace/frequency of tweets

How often should you tweet?

My suggestion: at least once a day, and ideally a handful (6-10?) tweets a day. (Not more than once or twice per hour.)

Why at least once a day? Posting at least one tweet per day assures that anyone who looks at your Twitter account will conclude, "This person is active." That is important if you want them to follow you and pay attention to you in other ways.

(And that's why you want that one tweet to be a good one. It kind of defines you.)

((So: maybe pin the tweet you want people to see first. It's an important choice.))

Why limit the number of tweets? Remember that people will be seeing your tweets in a stream that includes diverse tweets from all the accounts they follow. It's better to get their attention with one or two really good tweets than to annoy them with a whole string of tweets of variable quality.

If you're going to tweet, why not give it your best shot?

Is there an app for that? I suggest people read about Buffer:

"How the Founder of Buffer Tweets: The System and 5 Types of Tweets to Keep Your Followers Engaged"

At first I resisted using Buffer, but I have found it has helped me be much more intentional about my tweeting!

(2) Reciprocity/sharing on Twitter

Is it better to share the things other people tweet? Or to create original material?

My own belief is that the essence of social media is sharing and reciprocity.

Of course, that doesn't mean mindless, robotic retweeting. Ideally, we can all share a lot while also each adding a little extra oomph! to the things we share, too.

Here's an example of something I (re)tweeted this morning:

Share this post on Twitter.

It reflects a "tip o' the hat" to a long time collaborator (@plussone), and shares the material with other accounts that I am in various stages of conversation with (@monicadavey1 @CureViolence @CampaignNV  @naarpr  ). Since they're all public figures or organizations, it's a personalized message with a public character. (It poses a question I hope everyone will find provocative.)

I initially thought about simply retweeting the original post. Then I thought about trying to spell out what I thought the report might mean. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, "There's so much between the lines here. Let's get some other people in on this conversation."

Suggestion 1: Start paying attention to your Twitter notifications (link at the top of page) -- including those who share your tweets, and the new followers you attract. Is some reciprocity in order?

Suggestion 2: Follow some interesting accounts. Notice if they follow back.

(3) Twitter lists

Once you begin to have a large list of accounts you follow, you will find it difficult to wad through the strea, of tweets from all of them in the main Twitter feed.

I suggest making one or more Twitter lists.

I have created lists relating to several different topics:

One way lists help me is that I can devote a small amount of time each day on specific topics of greatest importance to me -- nuclear disarmament, for instance -- and be assured of immediately finding some really valuable material to sink my teeth into.

(Reciprocity also plays a part: lists give me quick access to the accounts that I tend to have a lot of productive engagement with.)

I've found that lists make the difference between Twitter use being random and tedious vs. being intentional and effective.

Here's a good post with more information about Twitter lists: "What's a Twitter list and how should I use it?"

(4) Visuals in tweets

A couple of years ago, some friends told me:

* social media posts get better response if they include images combined with words ("memes")
* for best display on Twitter, use 1024 x 512 px (w x h) memes

Changed my life . . . .

I'm still in the beginning stages of learning to make really good memes. I use the simple Paint tool that came with my computer. It's all I need to resize images and overlay text.

Here's a meme that I borrowed from someone else -- one that proved to be quite effective:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
presiding bishop Rev. Elizabeth Eaton and quote:

"When my dad came back from the war, the GI bill meant he and
my mom could get a low interest loan. That was not available to
African American veterans. That's white privilege. It's baked into
the system. Now, we didn't create it, but if we don't work to
change it, we are complicit."

To see how I used it, see this post: "Personal Success Story"? "White Privilege"? or Both?

Here's a good post with more information about effective use of visuals: "Why you'll look at every photo in this post (but might not read it)"

(5) Using tweets to connect ... to what?

I think the single most valuable lesson I've learned about social media came to me via a Twitter follower:

"You can accomplish more if you link in your tweet
to a longer piece, such as a blog post you've written."

That advice helped me understand that, ideally, a tweet is not an end in itself -- it's connected to something bigger. (And, by the way, that advice gave me the idea to start a blog!)

Obviously, linking to some kind of longer post overcomes some of the problems posed by Twitter's 140 character limit.

And -- perhaps not so obviously -- linking to some other post of yours (such as a blog or Facebook post) allows you see a count of how many people view and/or like and/or comment on it. Such metrics are essential to beginning to judge effectiveness.

If nothing else, I hope some of the articles linked to in this post inspire everyone to go out and search for the abundant advice available online about how to use specific aspects of social media effectively!

Related posts

On November 11, 2015, Veterans for Peace had a message about reclaiming Armistice Day that proved itself massively spreadable on social media . . .

(See What will it take to reclaim Armistice Day for peace? )

Martin Luther spurred a miracle of movement building during the Reformation. (The printing press helped.) Just think what he might have done with social media!

(See ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Will a Renewed Church Require New Communications?)

What value might be obtained by having a really high quality "channel" on social media that people can tune in to for news and ideas about war abolition?

(See #NOwar - Permanently Trending on Twitter? YES! )

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