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1 How to: use Twitter Twitter use in Australia is currently relatively low (compared to Facebook), however it is increasing and it is now estimated that more than 2 million Australians have Twitter accounts. Increasing mobile usage has been a factor in this growth in platform adoption. Twitter users are often active posting regularly, logging in multiple times a day. Twitter users are more likely to be male (around 2/3 are male) and tend to be older (with the highest bracket between 34 and 45). Importantly, though, it is used by journalists, professionals, analysts, PR advisors and other key audiences for political messages. Setting up a Twitter account Go to and register a new account. You ll need to choose a name that is fewer than 15 characters long, and is either related to your name or your electorate. The shorter the better, as when you mention someone using their Twitter name, you use up precious characters that could be used for the message. You should also download the app for Twitter on your smartphone (free) or HootSuite if you are a confident user ($10 a month). Follow thought leaders Twitter will suggest people for you to follow. In addition, you should follow account, your State Greens your local senators, your lead senate candidate, your competitors and local news organisations and journalists. Set up lists Twitter can become overwhelming. Thankfully, you can create lists of people and follow lists created by other people. for public lists to follow. Then you can use the lists to manage what you read and when. 1

2 Monitor key conversations Twitter moves so fast it s hard to keep up. Set up searches for hashtags, yourself, allies, opposing candidates and issues. Use monitoring tools like HootSuite to alert you when your name is mentioned. Plan your message Once you re confident that you understand how Twitter works, you can start tweeting yourself. Create a content calendar and plan what you ll say. Create a quick tactical document for each live event with topic concepts and draft tweets ready to go. Be even more brief 140 characters sounds hard, but to be even more effective, you want to write even more succinctly. In Buddy Media s report, tweets with 100 characters or less got 17 per cent more engagement. That s partly because it s easier for a reader to retweet them and write a quick response in the same tweet. Post often You need to post more frequently than in other spaces because Twitter moves rapidly and messages are quickly buried under more recent ones. You still need to balance correctly between frequency and engagement, though. Post at the right time Unlike Facebook, Twitter is a daytime activity. Key hours are between 8am and 7pm (according to Buddy Media: Strategies for effective Tweeting). Include links In Buddy Media s study, tweets with links had 86 per cent higher retweet rates than tweets without links. You want people to retweet you: it expands your audience exponentially. 2

3 Make sure the link to your donation page or petition or volunteer sign-up form works before you post it. No one will retweet something that s broken. Also watch out for a common culprit that s actually simple to fix: you must have a space before the link for it to function in the tweet. Use link shorteners like bit.ly or the built-in ow.ly in social media management tool Hootsuite. That leaves more precious characters available for the rest of your message. You can also track who clicked on your links when you do that. Use hashtags A hashtag does two things: it creates or connects to a channel with all the other tweets about that keyword, so that people who don t follow your Twitter account but are tracking that channel will see your tweet; and it highlights that word in a different colour, making it stand out when readers are scanning a busy tweet stream. You should only use one or two hashtags per tweet. While a small number increases engagement, too many are hard to read and lose their impact. To find the best hashtag for a campaign, see Create a unique hashtag for your campaign as well as using a general one so that you can track the campaign s success. 3

4 Tweet pictures Links to images also increase engagement. You can take a photo with the camera on your phone and upload it directly to Twitter or share via Instagram. Photos shared from Instagram automatically take their caption (along with any hashtag) with them. Give instructions Explicitly ask readers to retweet. You can use Please RT but the biggest impact is if you can fit the full phrase please retweet into your 100 characters. Buddy Media s research suggests it will net you 23 times the average number of retweets. Don t sell too hard Twitter is one of the least corporate social media services. The tone should stay warm but professional. Don t just fling out press releases, management speak or the hard sell. Communicate directly with your targeted journalists or community champions and build relationships. Tag your targets Find the Twitter handle (user name) of the people or organisations you are talking about. Use their name in the tweet to bring their attention to it. However, ensure you craft the tweet so the target s name is not the first word (If the tweet starts with their name, then your followers will only see it if they also follow the other person). If you can t avoid the sentence starting that way, one trick is to put a full stop first. Retweet responsibly Share photos, events and tweets from within the Greens social media ecosystem. You can choose to simply retweet or RT with a message added. This will automatically alert them to your existence and encourage them to share your news. 4

5 Respond when tagged by allies If you are tagged in a tweet, reply or retweet with a reply if appropriate but Don t panic and don t feed the trolls Occasionally, detractors will post complaints or comments that are inappropriate or problematic. Twitter can be a very nasty place and it s recently been a space filled with cyberbullying. Be aware that anything with the hashtag #auspol is being followed by a very keen band of policy wonks dissecting everything that happens in politics. Don t respond to nasty comments and if serious threats are made, follow the escalation policy, which can be found on the GreenHouse. If the material breaks the law in any way (because it is defamatory or encourages a crime, for example), make a copy (by printing or taking a screen shot) and inform the National Digital Communications Coordinator. Unlike some other social networks, comments do not occur on your site so you are not able to delete them. Schedule tweets In addition to tweeting live from events, you can schedule reminders for events or petitions using tools such as HootSuite. However, be aware of what you have scheduled at all times. If a tragedy occurs internationally, your scheduled light-hearted reminder to come to an enrolment party will not be taken well. More information Twitter Rules and Best Practices: 5

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