Posts tagged with 'how-to'

Twitter for candidates

handshakeI’ve been following the NYC public advocate race for the past few weeks, and noticed a while ago that all of the candidates are on Twitter. As I started following each of them, it became clear that they might not understand the full potential of social media and networking, because most of their tweets have been one-way broadcast tweets–posting how they feel about an issue, where they’re speaking that night, etc.

I griped a little yesterday about this, and Elana over at Wellstone Action asked me what advice I’d give candidates running for office. Here’s a quick, handy-dandy list of pointers for candidates, from the position of a voter:

  • Talk with me, not to me. Twitter is a media platform for conversation, not broadcast. A rule of thumb that’s used for organizations also applies to candidates: only about 20-30% of your tweets should be about you. The rest should be about what your community cares about. Which leads me to…
  • Find out what your community cares about. Read what your followers are tweeting and respond with helpful information. It doesn’t just have to be related to the office you’re running for, either… in fact, it’s better if you mix it up a little. For example, someone you follow tweets about heading to a restaurant you love. Respond and say you go there often, too, and be sure to try the blackened sea bass.
  • Stay on top of hot topics. Look for people talking about issues you care about with Twitter search. You can either save them as saved search in your Twitter app (Tweetie, Tweetdeck, Twitterific, etc.), or as an RSS feed for your news reader (Google Reader, Netvibes, etc.) Then respond to those tweets, even if you’re not following each other.
  • Give back to the community. Retweeting others’ ideas and suggestions is a great way to show appreciation, and to spead the good word.
  • Use your own, authentic voice, not a press release voice. I’m a voter, a human, and I want you to be a human too. Robots don’t do so well in the voting booth.
  • If you don’t have time, assign a staff person to monitor and respond to items — just make sure they’re clear that they’re your staff person, and not you. For example, NYC mayoral candidate Reverend Billy Talen has a personal account, as well as his campaign staff’s group account. If your staff person uses your account, ask them to note that they’re a staffer.

In short, act like a normal person who cares about the people around them, because we know you do!

Note: Bill de Blasio was the only public advocate candidate who responded to my gripe, and he gets extra Twitter points for both that and at least retweeting people once in a while. Go Bill!

Where I’ve been all week: notes from Social Tech Training, Toronto

sttI had the immense pleasure of spending most of the week in Toronto, training about 90 people on the ins and outs of all things social tech. It was an honor to join the other trainers, real rockstars of both American and Canadian social tech for social good worlds: Beka Economopoulos, Cheryl Contee, Roz Lemieux, Jason Mogus, Sam Dorman, Phillip Djwa, Darrell Houle, Samer Rabadi, Eric Squair, Tim Walker, Julia Watson… man, I felt smarter just hanging out with these peeps all week.

Here’s some links to the presentations and workshops that I led and co-led all week; thanks to the participants who took killer notes. There’s tons of incredible info on, and being added to, this wiki, so check back often:

Identity crisis: How much should I share on social media?

equalizerAs more people are jumping into the social media river, many are wondering what they should share online — specifically, where are the boundaries between personal and professional behavior in this brave new world, where we’re all able to peek into the windows of our friends, family and coworkers.

I talked in pretty simple terms about some different approaches in “The non-fanatical beginner’s guide to Twitter.” With this post, I’m going to flesh out some of the nitty gritty and help to answer some of the tougher questions.

It used to be said with one of the very first popular online social tools — email — that you shouldn’t write anything in a message that you wouldn’t want to appear in the New York Times. Few people ever followed that rule, thank goodness. How boring would our lives be if we all subjected ourselves to Grey Lady standards of information sharing?

Nowadays, new tools make it easier to share as much of ourselves as we want, and especially if you’re just getting going, it can be difficult to know what’s okay to post and what isn’t. A flat-out easy beginner’s guidepost comes from the illustrious Susan Mernit, who told participants in a workshop we led: “If you’re wondering whether you should post something or not, you probably shouldn’t.”

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Why Twitter, anyways?

(This is part 2 of a chicken-’n’-egg series explaining the usefulness of Twitter. If you get what Twitter is, but need help getting started, you might want to look at “A non-fanatical beginner’s guide to Twitter.“)

I’m tapping away furiously on my Blackberry as a friend arrives to join me for coffee. “Whatcha working on?” he asks.

“Just updating my Twitter,” I say. “Two secs.”

“Twitter, huh? I just don’t get it, I guess.”

“Oh, my. Allow me to get you to ‘get’ it, my friend.”

This is a conversation I have often, and while it might make some diehard Twitterers cringe, I relish this moment to expound and explain this little phenomenon that’s happening around Twitter and services like it. I’ve clearly drunk the Kool-Aid of the micro-blogging revolution, and I’d love to walk you through some of the ways people are enjoying it.

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A non-fanatical beginner’s guide to Twitter

Thanks to a bunch of mainstream media coverage, a lot of folks around me are becoming more interested in participating in the Twitterverse. “All right, all right,” they say. “You’ve convinced me. But how do I get started?” It’s almost like walking into a giant party for the first time: You’re not sure where your friends are, the bar is on the other side of the room, and the bathrooms are anyone’s guess. Allow me to be your party guide.

Sure, sure, you could also just Google “beginner’s guide to Twitter” and read a any number of other guides that have been written. Problem is, I feel like most of them focus on two niches: how to be a fanatical Twitterer, and/or how to be a really obnoxiously popular Twitterer. What I’m aiming for here is more for people who want to experiment a little and connect with other folks on a pretty direct level. We’ll talk later about different ways you can participate, but for now, let’s just get the basics down.

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