#PremDAC15, the Premier Digital Awards Ceremony, was held at The Brewery in London (MAJOR swoon) on Saturday night and while I was very disappointed to not be able to attend, I am so honoured to have won the award of Tweeter of the Year. Thanks to all at Premier for your encouragement and to everyone who got in touch to cyber-celebrate with me – it almost felt like I was there!
The award carries a special meaning for me because Twitter was the first online space in which I found my voice as an activist.
I was a University student who came across a leaked Kanye West/Jay-Z video depicting drugged, beaten and dead women and children. It really concerned me and I knew I had to do something about it. I looked at the tools that were in my hands at the time, and Twitter was one of them – so I connected with Mel Tankard Reist, an anti-objectification activist in Australia who founded Collective Shout and Sharon Haywood, a body image activist who founded AnyBody Argentina. We launched an online petition which was shared all over Twitter, gaining global attention and resulting in Universal agreeing to not show the video across their platforms.
It was so exciting. We could fight for the good of others through our use of Twitter! It was then that I decided to use Twitter for good wherever I could – to share and spread good news stories, to educate myself and others, to campaign and make a difference.
I keep coming back to one question on the blog: what is it that makes your heart beat faster that you hear echoes of in the things you choose to involve yourself in?
For me, it’s the hope of a culture that upholds, protects and celebrates the worth of all human beings. And I love that Twitter has enabled me to contribute to that. What makes your heart beat faster? Chances are, using social media well could help you do it.
So, with that in mind – here are my top 10 tips for getting the most of Twitter, as an individual or as a business/organisation!
Be a person
Engagement on Twitter is the best thing about it. If someone responds to what you’ve said, get back to them! If someone gives you a shout-out, say thanks. If you want to get to know your followers, ask them a question. Also – don’t be afraid to share some of your personal life. Go ahead and tell people that a bee got stuck in your ear as you walked home from work last week (true story). Be funny. Be a person. (If you are using Twitter as a business/organisation, it’s helpful to think about how personal your brand is and how to reflect that through your use of social media.)
Along similar lines, be generous! Twitter is a great platform and you will meet other users whose messages are worth promoting. Share them.
Don’t be afraid of repetition
Repost links to articles or quotes that you love – people won’t see everything you tweet, especially if they follow a large number of people…so posting a few times will ensure your output is less likely to be missed – and you’re putting it out there because you believe in it, so go for it!
Part I: tag your tweets according to their topics to be more searchable. You may also want to come up with your own hashtag (i.e. #teambrowngoestoindia or #nomoretraffik) as a way of archiving your tweets on one topic together.
Part II: there are lots of helpful conversations to join under hashtags that are based on locality (i.e.: #belfasthour) or interest (i.e.: #commschat). The conversations are often in the form of regular weekly slots. Find the hashtags that interest you and join them.
People follow you either because they know you, or because your content interests them – and this is most likely to be around two or three topics. This is NOT to say you should feel restricted in terms of what you want to talk about, and YES, please allow yourself to grow and change. However, keeping your output centred around that thing that makes your heart beat faster, or around a few topics, will mean that your Twitter followers trust you and recommend you to others as someone who tweets about poverty alleviation/digital marketing/leadership mentoring/etc… Same goes for how much you post – not to be legalistic about it (remember, be a person!) – but tweeting a similar number of times a day will mean your followers know what they’re getting!
I talked about this when I shared my Top Instagram Tips. I don’t tweet my location ‘live’ – I wait until I’ve moved on to somewhere else unless I’m at a busy conference or venue guaranteed to be safe. I don’t share information that would build a pattern of where and what I do at certain times of the day, and I don’t highlight my locality by mentioning things or sharing photographs close to my office or my street. That may all seem a little too serious, but I have had safety concerns and have always been glad to know I haven’t shared anything that would compromise my personal security.
Care more about the people than the tweets
Then we get to the part where Twitter can be difficult to navigate. When it gets a little heated and tricky, the golden rule is this: remember the people you are talking to are just that – people. Care more about their personhood than their tweets and you’ll be fine.
Know when to walk away
You could spend all of your days on Twitter getting into discussions about everything under the sun. Sometimes, it’s best to walk away from a conversation – you’ll know if it’s not going anywhere constructive. Don’t stick around to put out fires. Decide on topics that are off-limits to you, set yourself a timeframe for engaging, create boundaries. Twitter doesn’t have to consume you.
Cyber-coffee does not (yet) exist
Listen, Twitter is a WONDERFUL place to share information, tips, ponderings and encounter different points of view. However, it is not the place for in-depth conversations. Nor is it the place for trying to convince someone else to agree with you in a heated debate. A toneless 140 character limit has its draw-backs. Use DMs, get email addresses or meet up for coffee.
Don’t feed the trolls
There are people on Twitter who do not want the best for you. Don’t worry about them. Some are on Twitter solely to tear down. Some carry a ruthless agenda. Some have experienced things that prohibit them from engaging constructively in that moment. Especially if you tweet about something controversial, or about something that makes people uncomfortable, you will encounter trolls. You do not need to listen to them.
That said, Twitter is a wonderful teacher, and it is possible to learn from people you disagree with. I’ve greatly benefited from Twitter not in posting, but in reading. My privilege has been challenged countless times. I have learned about a vast number of things. Voices I wouldn’t usually be hearing are accessible to me on Twitter, on a very wide range of topics. Listen. You never know what you might hear!
And a bonus tip: use analytics! Whether you schedule your tweets using something like Hootsuite or simply use the app, you can find out which posts are most engaged with, when, and even where. Handy!
Twitter is a fantastic space in which to connect, learn, teach. I hope this post has been helpful. What are your top tips? I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comment section below or by tweeting me at @gemmaruthbrown.
And while you’re on there, have a look through the #PremDAC15 hashtag – SO much great advice for engaging with the digital world from the conference that took place before the ceremony. You’d pay big money for the nuggets of pure gold on there!
Need help with your personal or corporate use of Twitter and other forms of digital media? I’ve recently starting offering tutorial sessions with individuals or groups. Covering your needs – communications strategy, viral media campaigns, social media training, media liaison advice, language & presentation tips and much more. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!