How to join the #dearjohn campaign

How to join the #dearjohn campaign

Note: This how-to became quite popular, and I wanted to be clear that it is available for reposting and reuse for other campaigns, so long as you respect the Creative Commons license (Attribution non-commercial share-alike).


For background on the #dearjohn campaign, check out these posts from Sady Doyle and Amanda Marcotte.

If you’re not on Twitter, but you’d like a helping hand through the sign-up process, go here.

If you’re new to Twitter, and want an introduction to basic concepts– retweets, hashtags, and mentions, oh my!– go here.


One of the more attractive social media tactics when it comes to creating a stir is to use hashtags. Hashtags, in the case of campaigns and politics, can be useful to:

  • collect all the tweets about a particular topic in one place;
  • put pressure on public figures to respond to a topic (because of the above);

What’s a hashtag? It’s an agreed-upon keyword preceded by the pound sign that’s added to your tweet. In this case, we’re using #dearjohn. No special skill is required–just type it into your tweet, or copy and paste it.

Tweets with the #dearjohn hashtag should convey one or more of the following:

  • A sense of urgency about sexual assault and reproductive rights.
  • A personal story–storytelling is what gets to people, not isolated facts and figures.
  • Deep conviction. You don’t have to tell your story to be authentic, but your words should be your own.

UPDATE: Check out Sady’s newer post for content ideas and guidelines.

Consider also monitoring the #dearjohn hashtag (how to do that is explained below) and retweeting posts that you agree with. Amplifying powerful messages and diverse voices goes a long way towards building critical mass.

It’s also helpful to include the Twitter handles of people that you want to hear your message. House representatives who are sponsoring the bill should be considered first–start with @SpeakerBoehner himself. A list of the rest of the co-sponsors–all 173 of them!– can be found here (click on “Co-sponsors” under Representative Christopher Smith). You can use GovLuv to find the Twitter handles of the representative you wish to mention. Consider also sending messages of thanks to representatives who are speaking out and standing up for women in this fight. UPDATE: Amaditalks on Tumblr compiled the whole list here.

You might also think about starting (or joining an existing) an petition to collect #dearjohn tweeters in yet another online location.

A word about decency/politeness: You don’t have to be nice in your tweets when confronting folks that support HR3. But calling names, making false or libelous accusations, etc., only hurts the rest of the movement. Be outraged, but keep your head on straight.

A word about trolls: If you’re new to this kind of thing, you might not have had much experience with trolling behavior. Basically, a troll is someone who actually isn’t interested in having a productive discussion, and only posts extremely inflammatory comments to derail the entire conversation. Ignore them. Block them. Do not, repeat, do not respond in any way, shape or form–do not even tell them that you’re blocking them. Trolls are vampires: they are emboldened and strengthened by any response to their antics, and you will inevitably be weakened. I know it’s hard to ignore them. But trust me, it is the only way.

To see the running log of all #dearjohn posts, you can do a few things:

  • Keep coming back to this post and clicking on #dearjohn
  • Look at the top of your Twitter page–there’s a search box. Enter #dearjohn into it, and when you see the search results, you’ll notice a button at the top right of the results–“Save this search.” Click that. Then, to find it again, look at the top of your Timeline for the “Searches” link. Click on it, and you’ll be shown a list of your saved searches.
  • For more advanced options, you can perform an advanced Twitter search here:

I’ll continue to update this post as the movement builds and evolves. Have a tip for me? Feel free to @me on Twitter, or drop a line.