How the Amplification Project is Using Twitter to Engage in Digital Advocacy

Daily Twitter usage is growing rapidly

Fifteen percent of all adults are now on Twitter, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center, so it is important for digital advocates to use this platform to amplify their messages in order to reach new audiences.  Here are some suggestions drawn from my experience of learning how to use Twitter more effectively to achieve our goals at the Amplification Project:

Transition from information-gathering to dissemination

I previously used Twitter to follow news and interesting developments in my professional field. As a researcher in labor market policy, my Twitter feed was incredibly useful to share information with my peers and find out what experts were saying, but digital advocacy is about far more than research and information-sharing. Rather than using Twitter as a platform to find out what others are saying, my focus has shifted to using Twitter to get my message out. You can continue to use Twitter as an information resource, but your primary goal should be to maximize the potential of this platform for your digital advocacy efforts.

Expand beyond the echo chamber of your existing base

It is not enough to simply put your message out there and share information with the people with whom you are currently connected. As a digital advocate, you should focus on reaching those who might otherwise not hear your message. Twitter is a great tool to communicate with people you may never interact with in your daily life. For example, my personal Twitter followers are colleagues and peers in my field who hold similar values and opinions to my own; if I were to only tweet to my followers on a labor market issue, then I would be preaching to a choir of people who are already familiar with it. The key to digital advocacy is to expand your reach, in order to educate and change the hearts and minds of those outside your existing support base.

Don’t just share, get others to share for you

Tweeting about policy research, to a targeted audience, is one way to spread your message. The real value in Twitter, however, lies in harnessing the ability of people to share for you. To do this:

  • Identify likely supporters who may not yet know about your particular issue, to get them involved in the conversation. Someone who is most likely sympathetic to your cause, but not yet talking about it, is likely to share your message to their followers. Make sure to tweet at them directly.
  • Engage in a Twitter conversation with an unlikely ally in order to reach a different base. If you have an ally that typically might not agree with you on an issue, or an ally that has a completely different base of support from your own, then engage this person in a conversation. When they retweet you, or you tweet at each other, their followers will see your tweets and you will thereby reach a new audience.

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