Will twitter change campaigning?

It can only be a matter of time before the verb ‘to twet’ ends up in the Oxford English Dictionary.  Last month the BBC reported that the micro-blogging phenomenon had for the first time made it into the top 20 most used social networking sites and that Twitter grew ten fold in 2008.

So should campaigners care? Rachel at The Charity Place has a whole number of excellent posts about Twitter and how to get started, wtwitterhile Econsultancy asks if more charities should be using Twitter.

Enough has already been written about twitter to generate a lifetime of tweets, so I just want to summarise a few ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ for campaigners.

For Twitter
Its free
Its instant – within moments you can be updating your followers about a new action they can take, a campaign victory to report. No longer do you need to build and send an e-mail or wait until the next campaign publications to tell your supporters.
So what if you fail – working with social media means a change in attitudes for many, its forcing organisations to be less risk adverse, perhaps a difficult things for NGOs who are aware that everything is paid for by donations, but isn’t the spirit of social media to try things, knowing that some with fail, but many will succeed.
Politicans are using it The Economist reports on the use of Twitter among US senators , OK so the UK is different but number 10 has been twittering for the last 12 months, and now a number of MPs are.
Its growing and fast– are we witnessing a ‘tipping point’ for twitter?

Against Twitter
Who uses it? Twitter may have experienced phenomenal growth in a short time, but who actually uses it? Labour Home asks a good question. Is Twitter just the domain of a small circle of ‘early adopters’ or is it about to break into the mainstream.
Its more than a just another PR channel – it seems that those who have been most successful with Twitter have embraced the fact its a conversation not another place to post your press release to, but doing this well has time implications.
You need the right technology – unless you have a web enabled mobile its hard to really follow people. But sales of the iPhone and other similar phones would suggest that more and more people are adopting these
Does anyone care Tweetminster is a wonderful idea, but will most MPs respond to a question/comment via Twitter – especially when they’re isn’t any evidence that the followers are from their own constituencies.

Instinctively I’m an ‘early adopter’ so I think Twitter is a great thing. My early adventures (at a UN conference and on a trip to Liberia) have been fun and insightful for thinking about the possibilities of Twitter.

From those experiences I’ve learnt that you need to put some serious time into promoting your feed, and then keeping the messages going to build up a head of steam. Equally you need to invest in putting time into replying to others and building a network on line. Twitter is not going to replace the more traditional methods of communicating with decision makers, but it might be a new one, an opportunity to demonstrate concerns and put issues onto the agenda within moments.

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One Response

  1. […] Twitter – here to stay Posted on October 21, 2009 by fatboytom So, after a very long summer break I’m back…one of my first blogs was about twitter back in February I asked if was going to catch on. […]

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