Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Using Twitter to support your political campaign

By John Fisher

Twitter can be a valuable grassroots tool to get people involved and talking about a political campaign.  "A quick Twitter lets your supporters know the truth so they can spread it through the coffee shops and their circle of friends." (Winning the Tough Ones,http://www.victorystore.com/wordpress/?p=8)

Twitter works when campaign workers and supporters re-tweet the campaign Twitter messages. Re-tweeting (RT) is the key to success in getting the candidate's name out and involved in "conversations."

Here is an illustration of how powerful re-tweeting can be.  The candidate may only have 100 workers or supporters following on Twitter.  However, when each of those workers and supporters re-tweets soon the message is sent to 100 X 100 followers.  That's 10,000 people who potentially could see the message.

As a worker or supporter, the process of joining Twitter and building followers is an easy one.

To signup with Twitter go to https://twitter.com/signup.

Invite your friends and contacts on your email account and Facebook to follow you on Twitter (even if they don't have a Twitter account). Connect your Twitter account to your Facebook, so that when you tweet your messages also go to your Facebook.

After you start generating your own tweets, unknown people will want to follow you. Let them follow you, but block obvious spammers and porn sites.

Do searches for people you will want to follow.  Look for people with common interests, graduates from your college, and from your region and community. You can also go through other people's followers and see which ones may have common interests.  Some of these people will follow you.

Establish your own credibility by building a profile that has a picture and tells about your interests.  You also need a dozen tweets so people see what you are interested in and that you are a serious tweeter.

When you get a message that is interesting (and from your political candidate), re-tweet it.  You will see this helps to build your following as well and re-tweets are greatly appreciated.

Use the @ symbol before the user name of people you refer to in your messages, like @fisherhouse.  If you want to send a message to only one person put the symbol D before the user name, like Dfisherhouse.

The hash mark (#) before a word in a post allows you to tag that post for that word. However, in order to get tracked via a hash tag, you need to opt-in and follow http://twitter.com/hashtags.

Use http://bit.ly/ to shorten the web addresses you link to.  You only have 140 characters per message.  You only want to use 120 characters so that your message can be re-tweeted.  (RT is the symbol for re-tweet.)

Good tweeting is not about you.  Don't send out messages about every little thing you are doing.  Most people don't care.

You can use www.twitter.com to send out your messages.  However, I use www.hootsuite.com because it allows me better access to my twitter accounts.

I don't read every tweet I get so it is important messages provide valuable and interesting information for readers.

According to "Winning the Tough Ones", some kinds of things that can be written in a Twitter include:

1. Thoughts on issues of the day. Responding to an article in the newspaper where it clearly provides you an advantage can be a quick, inexpensive way to get a message out.

2. Tweets related to events happening in the campaign have the potential to increase your turnout and potentially increase your fundraising success.

3. Tweets related to your opponent may also play a role. This could be responding to something he or she has said attacking you, or a polite way to contrast yourself with something your opponent has done.

If you want me to follow you, follow me at http://twitter.com/fisherhouse.

Good tweeting! And good luck on that political campaign.

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