3 things to keep in mind when starting out on Twitter

Social Media

Compared to other social media platforms, Microblogging formats such as twitter, have much more limited options to get your message out.  In that regard it is important to have a very specific strategy for your Microblog.    Here are 3 things about some campaigns I found that stood out:

1)   They had a short tag line and a link for more information. The tag lines were bold statements or questions.  Here are a few examples:at-the-rate-symbol-636243

Minority Health @MinorityHealth  Jul 22 Interested in helping prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017? Join the Million Hearts movement at http://1.usa.gov/YJrUju .

Minority Health @MinorityHealth  Jul 23  Parents: do you know how to spot the signs of depression in your teen  http://1.usa.gov/1LolnTx  #MentalHealthMatters #MMHM2015

CDC Global Health @CDCGlobal  43m43 minutes ago                                                                                                         In just 2 months, 8500 health workers in Sierra Leone were trained in #Ebola infection prevention & control. http://ow.ly/Q2Krp

 2)  The questions asked help collect useful data. When you only have 140 characters some of the most useful ways to use a microblog are to ask a meaningful question.  This data while maybe not in-depth, can show you trends in what people are interested in.  It can also show you where your organization should focus to draw people in.  Read more tracking health trends witUntitled-1h twitter here.

3)  Calls to action are very powerful:  Asking someone directly to like your page, re-tweet your post or download your app are appealing and quick calls to action that people can do.  If your cause moves them you have just given them a simple way to help you spread the word.  Often I think non-profits get caught up in the idea that a call to action involves asking for money or time, but with Twitter your call to action is more about presence and spreading the word.  Here are some good examples.

It is going to take practice. As with any form of social media it really is about finding what appeals to your audience and how to get them to engage with you.  This means trying multiple approaches and changing it up often.  Many successful brands have it figured out.  Using big news events can be a segway for your organization to share a message.  Here are two example that I felt like the domestic violence organization I work for could use for an effective Tweet:

  • Media covered that 3 Doors Down stopped mid song to kick a man out of their concert for shoving a women.  This is an opportunity to link with a big name brand, like a music group and use the story to create awareness about the issue and your services.  Read the media story.  This was also tweeted by the band, so using the hashtags they used could get more people to see your organization and participate in a conversation.
  • The Grammy’s Its on Us campaign and Alexander Gaskarth Tweets about his feeling of there being a double standard because a big name star with a history of domestic abuse was invited to attend the event. This is a great way to start a conversation about society/communities responsibility.  Read the media story  

More ideas on making your brand stand out.

Here is a great tool kit from the CDC that can help public health organization take the leap into social media.  The pages on Twitter were particularly informative.  Here are two key takeaways from the tool kit for twitter.

  •  Keep content short and simple. CDC recommends writing tweets of 120 characters so that messages can easily be retweeted, (the practice of posting another user’s tweet), without editing. If a tweet contains the maximum 140 characters, users who want to share your message by retweeting will need to edit the message to reduce the character count.
  • Provide more information with a shortened URL. If possible, provide a link back to your main website for more information. You can save space by using URLs that are shortened. Several websites are available that can help you: http://tinyurl.com or http://is.gd.

5 thoughts on “3 things to keep in mind when starting out on Twitter

  1. Your blog posts always have such useful information! I really liked the summary of info from the CDC site. The only suggestion I have might be to make the title and/or intro a little more revealing as to what information you are providing. Since we skim so many things looking for what we need, having a better sense of what you are presenting straight away will make sure people get to your great information.

  2. Lots of very useful links and I think the three main points you make are in general very solid. Even though “many folks” have sometimes complained that data they get off Twitter surveys and the like is too statistically noisy to be useful (or have selection bias, or aren’t statistically representative samples, etc.), I don’t think this is necessarily true for every issue, and obviously sometimes a rough cut is better than no insight into an issue at all. Plus, I definitely agree that a call to action that resonates is not only more than just slacktivism, but also a great tool for exposure to a cause. I have a technical suggestion and a content one. On the content side, it might be nice to bold or italicize your key points to make them stand out. I kind of overdo that with my posts, but I think it makes them easier to visually parse. Also, since you have several tweets directly referenced, if you paste the tweet URL on a line by itself, WordPress will automatically insert the tweet and make it clickable so people can follow, retweet, and so on. Otherwise, I enjoyed the post very much!

  3. Ashley, I like the idea of “starting a conversation.” I’m still not convinced that Twitter is the best place to actually have a conversation, but I do think, as your examples show, that it’s a great tool to get people to start thinking about and maybe even acting on important issues. It’s also a good way to inject some oomph into a campaign that is not taking off, or is quite long. Thanks for the CDC link as well- super helpful!

  4. Ashley, I like how your blog post was so content-rich and contained so many great links. I think about Twitter like the world’s largest cocktail party. Maybe not the greatest place to have an in-depth discussion, but as you point out, a great place to get started and to pique interest. The one thing I think Twitter has going for it is the chance for people to engage with content and people/orgs who provide it. The examples you raised are definitely consistent with this idea. Great work! By the way, if you’re still on Twitter, look me up! I’m @sunsopeningband.

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