Social Media (Twitter) and You

Social media can often feel like shouting into the void because, well, you sort of are shouting into the void. But social media is social, and it’s an awesome way to make connections to folks you might have never had the chance to meet in person – I know people who are getting PhDs with connections they made on twitter, for example. It’s a great way to get in touch with local media, and yes, even government officials.

So where, or rather how, do you start? First, the nuts and bolts: make an account. Most of it is fairly straightforward, but if issues arise, please feel free to email IndivisibleYoloSocialMedia at gmail dot com (not written out because there are robots on the internet programmed to find email addresses and add them to spam lists). Here are some details:

Twitter Account setup:

  • GET THE APP, it will make your life a million times easier
  • On a computer:
  1. Go to twitter.com
  2. Click “Sign up” in top right hand corner
  3. Give your name, and an email address, then set your password
    1. UNCLICK “tailor twitter based on my recent website visits”
  4. Click sign up!
  5. In the top right, click the egg (or photo) icon next to the “write tweet” button
  6. In the drop down menu, click ‘settings’
    1. Update your security and privacy settings
    2. Under ‘email notifications’ turn off email notifications (or tailor them, because otherwise you will be spammed)
    3. Update any other settings as necessary
  7. Congrats! You have a twitter account!
  8. To update your profile, click the profile icon next to the “write tweet” button again, and view your profile.
  9. Click the “edit profile” button to write a blurb, add an image, or anything else
  • On the app:
  1. Open the app
  2. Sign up using your name and email
  3. On the bottom right, click the “Me” tab
  4. Click “edit profile” to edit profile
  5. Click the cog to open a menu, then click ‘settings’ to change settings
  6. Change the same security and privacy settings as you would on computer
  7. Update notifications to remove all email notifications (or allow very select email notifications – again you don’t want to be swamped)
  8. Congrats! You have a twitter account!
  9. Now let’s tailor your feed…

Now you have your account, great! What do you do from here? Well, first, don’t follow all the people a site (like twitter) suggests for you. You’ll end up following POTUS, and if you’re like me, you don’t want to see that garbage in your feed. A feed is simply the list of tweets from people you follow that appears for your perusal. So here’s where it gets personal and fun – following people.

Follow Indivisible Yolo: @IndivisibleYolo

Follow Indivisible: @IndivisibleTeam @IndivisibleGuide

Follow your representatives (CA03):

  • John Garamendi @RepGaramendi
  • Kamala Harris @KamalaHarris
  • Dianne Feinstein @SenFeinstein

But that’s only five accounts! Here’s where it gets fun – try finding local media sources in your area (type in “Davis” or “Woodland” in the search bar). Things like the Davis Vanguard or the Daily Democrat will pop up (and you can always search your favorite publications by name). One thing you’ll also notice, if you follow those media accounts, are the suggested follows that also pop up (usually a drop down menu with several accounts will appear after you follow an account). After you follow a media site, most of the folks on that drop down menu are that publication’s reporters. Follow them. Not only will they promote their own pieces, they’ll promote their own views, and you can tweet directly at them (by @’ing them) – it’ll get their attention. Be cordial, and you might get them to come out to an Indivisible Yolo event, or take a statement from you, or publish one of your op-eds. Attention from the press is one of the most important tools in IY’s arsenal, and thus one of the most important tools for you to reach your MoC.

And this doesn’t work for just local media – it works for national media as well. The drop down menu might not always show you reporters (often times, it will link you to other big name publications), but searching your favorite news outlet’s name, then clicking over to the “people” tab will often show you their reporters and contributors. The same strategy applies with them. One account I would highly recommend following is @mmfa – Media Matters. It’s a media watchdog group that’s active in keeping the media accountable, and has many great reporters who are very active on twitter.

In addition, you can follow members of congress besides your own – @SenSanders is just one example. You can search “[State]” and “Senator” to find other state senators, or find Representatives you’ve heard of – I would highly recommend @RepCummings (Elijah Cummings) and @RepJohnLewis (John Lewis), both prominent members of the Civil Rights movement. In addition, you can follow congressional groups, like House Democrats (@HouseDems) or committees, like the Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee (@HouseJudDems).

Last (in this list) but certainly not least, you can also follow human rights or watchdog organizations, like the ACLU and the SPLC. Those organizations’ pages will often have drop down menus that feature their chairs or other leaders. In addition, if you search those groups and then “Davis” or “Sacramento” oftentimes you’ll find a local chapter (i.e. Sacramento has a very active BLM).

So now you’re set up with an account, you’re following some great people, what’s next? How do you make an impact and get these people to pay attention to you? Two ways: @’s and #’s

To @ someone means to tweet at them. They will get a notification that they have been “tagged” or mentioned in your tweet. If you want a public answer from someone, be sure to put a period before you tag them (.@[TwitterName]). Even if you don’t expect a response, @’ing someone is a great way to get their attention (and yes, it’s pronounced “at-ing”). It’s like flooding someone’s inbox with emails, or sending them a bunch of postcards, but virtually. Additionally, if you’re at someone’s event (like Indivisible Yolo’s) you’ll want to @ them (us!) to boost publicity and knowledge of the event. If a lot of traffic (@’ing or hashtagging) is happening online, media outlets will usually make a point to cover the story.

The second thing you can do is hashtag (#). Here’s a summary of hashtagging from my speech at the IY General Meeting.

Why hashtags are important:

  • Consolidate information about a particular event
  • Make information about that event readily available and easy to search
  • Folks (like us) who organize pages and groups can quickly search through our members’ photos and comments about events, and can consolidate those for media releases or even just signal boosting (retweeting or sharing in order to boost the number of people who see the information or post) on social media
    • Signal boosting gets us and you traffic, which makes us easier to find for potential members and reach larger audiences
    • Traffic also increases the likelihood that our representatives or large media outlets will notice us – Garamendi is already following us on twitter, for example, because he sees the type of traffic we’re already getting

 

How to Hashtag or Tag:

  • Anything with # before it becomes a searchable hashtag!
  • To directly tag someone, put at @ before their twitter handle
    • When on twitter, put a period before the @ (looks like .@) to make someone (like a rep or a journalist) reply publically

 

Designated hashtags:

#IndivisibleYolo – for general events and basically anything you do that has to do with IY

#GaramendiTownHall – for town halls (obviously this would be different for different reps)

Many organizers post hashtags on their event pages, or will publicize them at the beginning of the event. Use these. The organizers of the event will be boosting these posts and looking for them on social media during and after the event. For example, the Feinstein town hall was hashtagged #FeinsteinEmptyChair and the Women’s Strike (on March 8th) will be hashtagged #WomensStrike

 

What you can do:

  1. Post your pictures and comments about events on social media
    1. Bonus points if you do it while the event is still happening! (this is called live-tweeting or live-blogging)
    2. Live tweeting just means tweeting the gist or as much of the actual quotes from the speaker as possible, or tweeting your reaction to the speaker
  2. Hashtag #IndivisibleYolo and a hashtag about the event (i.e. #HarrisTownHall #StandwithPP #ScienceMarch)
    1. Check IY’s social media before an event, or any official event pages, chances are there’s a designated hashtag for that event
      1. Organizers will usually check up on that hashtag during and after the event, and boost any comments or media they think is valuable
  3. Tag Indivisible Yolo in your posts – either in the post itself or the comments
    1. You can also tag any of your representatives! It’s not as good as email, which is not as good as calling, etc., but it’s something! As with media, put a period before the @ so that they must respond publically.

 

The last, and probably most important thing you can learn, is blocking and muting. People on the internet are rude – the anonymity often gives folks courage to type things that they would never say to someone’s face. Do. Not. Engage. If someone starts saying hurtful or untruthful things – block or mute them (and if they threaten you, report them). Go to their profile, and click the settings (cog wheel) next to their name. If you want them to know you’ve blocked them, and to never see or hear from them again, press block. This ensures they won’t be able to see your tweets, and you won’t be able to hear from them. If you don’t mind that they can see your tweets, but you don’t want to hear from them again, mute them. Often times they’ll keep tweeting at you – wasting their time and energy – and you won’t see a thing. If you’re petty like me, you’ll mute a lot of people. Make them waste their time and energy arguing with you, not the other way around. Many trolls on twitter are robots (bots, for short) – specifically designed to search key words and engage those users, so don’t play into their hands. Whether it’s a bot or a human, don’t let someone heckle you online – block or mute them, you will not change their mind.

That’s the gist of it! If you have any questions, or would like to set up a social media training session, please email at IndivisibleYoloSocialMedia at gmail dot com, or at me @ izzypie101 on twitter (again, spaces because bots). Happy posting!

 

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