Exploring Twitter: The Experience of the Unexperienced

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My experience with micro-blogging was non-existent before writing this post. Yes, I had heard of Twitter and Tumblr, but the only time I had ever seen a Tweet was if it was posted in the news. And, in the news you don’t always get a sense of how these tools are being used correctly or effectively, but you tend to hear more about the negative. So for this week, I committed to not only look at l three other health organizations work, but I was to take the plunge; I was going to create a Twitter account. This meant I was going to have to learn a little more than just how to create a new account.

I’m not going lie, I was a little anxious about setting up a Twitter account. All of this seemed so foreign and impossible for someone like me. However, once I read through Social Media for Social Good, Twitter and Twitter Apps, I was no longer anxious but excited to learn and explore.

“The Eleven Twitter Best Practices for Non-Profits,” outlined in Social Media for Social Good provided great strategies that one should apply when setting up a Twitter account. Before this I honestly didn’t think twice about there being a strategy, however, I quickly learned that if I didn’t implement one, the likelihood of my Twitter account being successful was almost non-existent. Firstly, I had to make sure that what I was saying was not only going to get a reaction from my followers, but would also inspire them to take action. In order to do this I needed to make sure that I not only found my voice/personality on Twitter, but that I understood how to use Twitter; apps, etiquette , program functions, and hashtags to name a few.

Another great source during my exploration was Anita Jackson, Director of Social Media and Blogging at MomsRising.org.   Not only does she provide some excellent tips on using social media, but she emphasizes the importance of having a strategy. She also, broke things down and made something so foreign, manageable. It was comforting to hear that someone not formally trained in a field like social media was doing this type of work and doing it well.

Through all my exploring, I kept hearing a common theme, “strategy, strategy, strategy.” What did having a strategy look like? That is when I started turning to other organizations on Twitter to see what they were doing. I looked at APHA (American Public Health Association), CDC, Training Institute. All three of these organizations were doing exactly what Heather Mansfield described in her book, Social Media for Social Good proposed. Some of the techniques I noticed these prestigious organizations employ included: using third party twitter apps to track their followers, developing a clear personality and voice, mixing up the content that they were posting, retweeting other organizations posts, and they used hashtags appropriately. I also noticed that some of these organization posted videos, and also used larger font size when they had an important message.

This week of exploration has most definitely been a week of growth for me and my social media repertoire. Even in setting up my own account I thought about all these key strategies and tips. Overall, though, I enjoyed getting to know this tool, however, I also recognize that I still have so much more to learn. Twitter is a powerful tool, however as Heather Mansfield pointed out, “always remember that the power of social media is not in the tools themselves; rather, it’s in the human being using them.”

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2 thoughts on “Exploring Twitter: The Experience of the Unexperienced

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with setting up your own personal Twitter and learning about the best practices to make sure you are heard! I’ve had a Twitter account for years, but have never really used it or explored the site until recently. I just never really had any personal appeal to me! You did a great job of relating to the readings and the research you did on other organizations. My suggestions for the future include making sure you proofread (there was one sentence in there that was a little hard to follow) and use some pictures or something to break up the text a bit. Overall great job!

  2. Some great ideas in this post, Alissa. Thank you for sharing. It really made me draw the distinction between Twitter for personal use and Twitter for professional use. In my personal life, I don’t strategize carefully, I’m constantly trying to pick dust-ups to have debates and test ideas, and I follow everyone because I like to have a diverse feed. It’s really all about consumption. However, my professional Twitter account is different. It’s issue focused, attempts to drive traffic to our Facebook page and website, and very selective in terms of engagement. This unit was fun to review some concepts I had to pick up on the fly when I learned social media for my University. If you’re still hanging around on Twitter, look me up! I’m @sunsopeningband. My professional account is @PacificDPTweet.

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