The Advocacy Pro’s Guide to Social Media (Part II): An Interview With Twitter
We all know how important Facebook and Twitter are to any successful advocacy or ballot measure campaign strategy. Yet we sometimes tend to lump the two platforms together.
So this week, I sat down with Megan Dorward, Twitter’s political and advocacy senior account executive, and Sven Reigle, a senior account manager, for an insider’s look at how Twitter specifically can help campaigns advance their strategic positions and reach target audiences.
In this day and age, if you want to make history with your campaign, you have to take social media seriously. And Rule Number One is: don’t underestimate the power of platforms like Twitter.
Before we get started, let’s set the record straight about something: Is Twitter a platform for “telling the world what you had for breakfast?”
MD: Twitter is more than just a platform to share what someone ate with the world; Twitter is a powerful platform to find information, express ideas, and gauge sentiment.
Twitter is unique in that it is a live, public, conversational, and global platform on which users can share and react to what is happening in the world around them in real time.
It’s often a place where news is made first, and where people go to get information first, making Twitter, in essence, the first draft of history.
Why should an advocacy or ballot measure campaign use Twitter?
MD: Twitter enables the campaign to reach influencers and communicate their views about the issue. Twitter is a digital town square that enables all voices to be heard and to organize, and offers elected officials the ability to listen.
Let’s start with the basics: What are hashtags and how can I leverage them in a public campaign?
Hashtags are public conversation aggregators. They are hyperlinked terms or phrases that compile Tweets around a singular topic. Hashtags lead to the discovery of conversations, communities and content, and can be an indicator of what’s happening in the world.
Hashtags can be leveraged in a campaign to reach people who are Tweeting about specific issues. A campaign could use a hashtag to join a conversation organically, or run a promoted campaign with keyword targeting around a specific hashtag to reach a community using this term.
What kind of people can we reach on Twitter? What if my campaign is trying to engage older audiences?
MD: Older populations are the fasting growing segments online, and we have a number of targeting capabilities to reach them, like age-targeting, behavioral targeting, and TV conversation targeting. Many of our advertisers have successfully reached older populations on Twitter, specifically groups like AARP. We recently highlighted AARP’s successes on Twitter in a blog post.
What kind of information should my campaign distribute to our followers?
MD: The thing to keep in mind when tweeting is that Twitter users come to Twitter when they are in discovery mode. Our timeline is media forward, which means that rich media, like photos, infographics, and videos are brought to the forefront of a user’s timeline. Because of this, we see that Tweets with rich and engaging content garner stronger engagement rates than Tweets with just text content.
Any other pro-tips?
MD: Since Twitter is a platform of one-to-one connections, Tweets that make users feel closer to the account owner, such as behind-the-scenes content or exclusive access, perform really well.
Tweets should have an authentic voice and be a true reflection of the account owner, as opposed to canned or scripted responses. Campaign managers should keep in mind that each Tweet is an opportunity to show and strengthen your relationship with your audience.
How often should my campaign Tweet?
SR: We see a lot of success with accounts that Tweet and engage with their audience on a regular basis. From an organic perspective, we see the best accounts Tweeting between 2-3 times each day. On the Promoted Tweets front, campaigns with fresh content updated every 1-2 days often perform better than older or more stale content.
How can I grow my Twitter followers?
SR: With Promoted Accounts, account owners can quickly and precisely grow their audience on the platform. Promoted Accounts work well with a strong organic presence. An account that regularly Tweets engaging and informative content is more likely to gain followers versus an account focused on self-promotion.
Can I target certain types of users with promoted Tweets?
SR: Absolutely! Twitter’s promoted product suite offers a variety of ways to reach a relevant audience. Advertisers can target based on which accounts a user is following, keywords a user is engaging with/using/searching for, TV shows the user is likely watching, as well as offline purchase behavior. All of these parameters can be overlaid with geography, device, age and gender.
How can I use Twitter to get the attention of bloggers and reporters who are writing about my issue?
MD: Since Twitter is open, public, and conversational, it breaks down the barriers of communication between people. A campaign could @mention a reporter or blogger directly in a Tweet to start a conversation, like how Rahm Emanuel @mentioned Jimmy Fallon in a Tweet and challenged him to take the Polar Plunge. If there is a certain hashtag that bloggers and reporters use when they Tweet about a specific issue, a campaign could tap into that conversation by using the hashtag in their own Tweets.
Holding a Twitter Q&A is a great way for people to connect directly with a candidate or an elected official. When public figures engage one-on-one with their constituents, it can have a more profound influence on voting behavior than even voters’ own friends and family members. Congressman Rob Wittman makes it a priority to hold regular Twitter Q&A sessions with his constituents and Twitter followers.
Last question for you: What is the Twitter tactic campaign managers most often forget to incorporate into their strategy?
SR: Most often, we see a disconnect between the content an account owner wishes to publish and the audience they are trying to reach. Specifically, campaign managers should be thinking about who they are wishing to reach with a message, and what types of content they will be most receptive to. Without much forethought, we see a lower level of engagement with content that does not reach a relevant audience.
The bottom line is that relevancy is key. To stay relevant, it’s important to have strong campaign targeting, a large number of online or offline events, and integration with a larger campaign narrative.