Introduction to Digital Advocacy: Twitter
By Elizabeth Jackson, UNA-NCA Advocacy Assistant & Digital Advocacy Lead
As we enter a new world structured around digital communication, virtual literacy holds immense value. As advocates, we must find innovative ways to become storytellers of our own communities and capitalize on digital methods to keep holding elected officials to the highest level of integrity.
One popular medium of virtual communication and advocacy is Twitter. Users on Twitter are active drivers in public dialogue. Twitter offers advocates a direct connection to elected officials and other influential figures, allowing civil society to speak truth to power. It’s a modern-day virtual meetinghouse.
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1) Cover photo: Larger picture above the profile
2) Profile Photo: Your main picture
3) Bio: Your mission statement- one or two sentences that tells users who you are or what you’re doing
4) Webpage: You can include any link; consider a cause or organization that you care about, or your LinkedIn profile
5) Pinned Tweet: A tweet that you feel strongly about, or that has great interaction. This is used to generate engagement with your content.
Time to Tweet
Why 280 characters?
Twitter was born as a mobile service, designed to fit the character limit of a text message. Today, Twitter still works on any SMS- ready phone. Brevity keeps Twitter fast-paced and relevant by encouraging people to Tweet in the moment and to focus on the essential ideas they want to communicate.
Finding Your Voice
Twitter allows you — the individual or the organization — to pull back the curtain and give your followers a peek into your daily life. Whether you’re snapping a group “selfie” at a campaign event or announcing breaking news, each Tweet demystifies the process and personalities of activism by letting your followers learn a little more about you. A simple formula to bear in mind is to try to include two of the following three traits in your Tweets:
How often should you Tweet?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, successful accounts maintain a consistent pattern of regular Tweeting. This could be one Tweet per day with high-quality content or several Tweets per day that strike a conversational tone and interact with the community of followers. Your following will grow if you invest in your presence on the platform.
Tweeting to Elected Officials
The basic formula for writing a post to your member of Congress is the following: location + member of Congress name or handle + the issue. Using district numbers, mentioning specific legislation, and calling on local or influential groups can help advance your message.
(1) Public education funding is investment into our future, we cannot function without out it! @RepAbbyJones, fund our public schools!
(2) I’m a local nurse and resident in MD-02, @RepAbbyJones keep healthcare accessible vote against the repeal of the Affordable Health Act!
(3) @UnitedNations, I’m a resident in MD-02 and I care about WHO funding. @RepAbbyJones vote to fund the @WHO!
Strive for a personal tone
Showcasing individuality and personality in your tweets resonates well with followers. It is a great way to develop and build a loyal following. Ultimately, personality wins on Twitter.
A great example of tweeting with personality is the Official Twitter Account of New Jersey (@NJGOV). Despite the Official Twitter of New Jersey being used to share vital information to residents, the account often engages residents through humor.
Engagement on Twitter
Retweets: A Tweet that you share publicly with your followers is known as a Retweet. This is a great way to pass along news and interesting discoveries on Twitter. You have the option to add your own comments and/or media before Retweeting. When using Twitter’s Retweet icon, your Retweet or Retweet with comment will reference the Tweet you are sharing.
Likes: Likes are represented by a small heart and are used to show appreciation for a Tweet. You can view the Tweets you’ve liked from your profile page by clicking or tapping into the Likes tab.
Twitter is an irreplaceable form of communication in our digital age, it’s unique in its power to amplify individual’s voices and hold influential figures accountable. As we adapt to this new world, remember to be patient with yourself as you learn these new mediums of communication. Embrace advocacy in your daily life through Twitter, through signing petitions, through voting. Twitter is a powerful tool to use on a greater journey of advocacy.