Why We Should Use Twitter
Social media have deservedly been much maligned. But of all the social media options, Twitter is the one that people who follow politics and are passionate about progressive policies should use. Twitter is one way to strategically advocate for progressive policies that we don’t use enough. In addition, it’s easy to use and is a good way to stay informed. And, I should mention that sometimes Twitter is hilarious!
For those unfamiliar with Twitter, here are some basics: First, if you do not have a Twitter account, you can set one up here. Then just follow people or news sources you value to see what they are posting. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but often include links to news articles or videos to amplify a tweet. Hashtags are another key feature of Twitter that enable a user to see other tweets about a topic. For Georgia progressives #gapol is a common hashtag. Another tool in Twitter is mentions. If you want Governor Kemp to see your tweet for example, you can Mention him in your tweet by including his twitter handle, which is @GovKemp. When you see a good tweet, you can retweet, with or without a comment, or simply click like. This will let your followers see it as well as your comment or other response. But understand that you never have to retweet, or send your own tweet; you can just use Twitter as an aggregator by following news outlets you like. So don’t be afraid to dip your toe into Twitter.
Twitter is the platform of choice for news outlets, journalists, elected officials, government officials, corporations and their CEOs, and lastly, sports figures and other celebrities. These are the elites who can be and are influencing social trends and public opinions. There were 68 million Twitter accounts in the U.S. in 2019. This is the primary reason progressives should utilize Twitter. You may not be able to reach Gov. Kemp on his cell phone, but you can mention him in a tweet and he, or his staff will see it. The same goes for image conscious CEOs and corporate accounts.
I use Twitter in several ways. One is to learn of or monitor breaking news in Atlanta. Last week, I was driving through midtown and saw a lot of police. Within about 10 seconds on Twitter, I learned that there had been a shooting in the area, which explained the cops, the closed roads, and the traffic. Another way I use Twitter is to learn and keep up with what is happening in the Georgia political ecosystem. To do this, I follow credible news sources and reporters. Some of my favorite reporter Twitter handles are: , @bluestein @stphnfwlr, @ByNickWoot, @markniesse, @JohnRuchAtlanta, and @RKempNewsDaily to name just a few. And you can follow news outlets themselves. Handles I follow include: @AJCGaPolitics, @mainlinezine, @GeorgiaRecorder, @GeorgiaNewsLab, and @nytimes. Lastly, I follow certain organizations that are doing work that I support, including @gcvoters, @gcpagenda, @GA_Votes, and @BlackVotersMtr. Follow these links to check them out.
Twitter is useful for political progressives to support or oppose policies and elected officials. One way to do this is to retweet posts with which you agree. Or you can “quote tweet” which means retweeting something and adding your comment at the top. Another way is to reply to a tweet. These tools allow you to amplify or dispute a tweet. Another way to amplify messages is to make good, smart use of hashtags. If you want to have your tweet noticed by other political followers, use the basic one for Georgia: #gapol. You can add hashtags that others are using, or make up your own. One of my favorites is #BadIdea. You can use hashtags to put an exclamation point on what you are saying, for example. If you want a particular reporter, elected official, or CEO to see your tweet, you can mention them by including their twitter handle in your tweet. Another helpful feature of Twitter is to post links to news articles or videos that you want to share with others.
Twitter can also help a campaign through the smart use of hashtags and mentions. We have seen dramatic use of hashtags for political movement building. For example, #OWS was an organizing tool for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, but it also brought attention from the general public to this issue. Other powerful hashtags recently have been #MeToo, #OscarsSoWhite and #BlackLivesMatter. In Georgia, groups used #SB202 as a hashtag, and it is still being used in tweets as we try to implement this new voter law.
Another feature of Twitter is its ability to send people direct messages. This can be useful to reach out to and develop relationships with reporters, activists, etc. It is basically an alternative form of email that is fairly accessible and easy to use.
Many folks complain about Facebook, but Twitter has several features that avoid some of the complaints of Facebook. Its tweets, or messages are short and limited. Facebook is used more for keeping in touch with family and friends, requiring a lot of sorting through. Twitter on the other hand, has good search and trending features that make it easy to check in on different topics. And Twitter, while not perfect, is much better than Facebook about controlling disinformation and hate speech.
Progressives in Georgia are hard at work tackling a range of important issues to help make our state more fair and just. We need to use all the tools in our toolbox to see the change we want. Twitter is one of the tools we need to use as robustly, and as strategically as we can. At the very least, you can help by setting up an account and following a few people. But if you care about politics and want to work for a better Georgia, I suggest you dive into Twitter. And, for sure, follow me @KristaRBrewer!