Building engaged communities that act

:NIM logoA presentation by Tracy Viselli and Jon Pincus for the Nevada Independent Media Summit ... here's the session description:

Twitter can and is being used as an effective online organizing tool. Join the presenters for a discussion on the mechanics of organizing on Twitter and how to inspire your organization into action off Twitter. The presentation is geared to any organization or group that wants to learn how to leverage Twitter for action off line including community groups, social groups, government, non-profits, advocacy groups, etc. The presenters are veterans of TwitterVoterReport and various discussions about political organizing online using Twitter.

If you've got feedback, please leave it in the thread at the bottom of the page -- or tweet it to @jdp23 and/or @MyrnaTheMinx. Thanks!

Building engaged communities that act
@jdp23 and @MyrnaTheMinx
March 7 2009
Available online at

2Baratunde Thurston's opinion of Skittles
Sunday night, Skittles changed their home page to be a Twitter feed. since then: press in WSJ, USA Today, LAT, FT, AP, 4000+ blogs. wtf?1-2 minutes to hook people. there's something going on here. question: how to leverage it for action? Additional info: Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Logic and Emotion, Digital Tip, Liminal States

Screenshot by Baratunde Thurston
  1. Twitter intro and background
  2. Activism examples
  3. Building your community on Twitter

4Twitter logoTwitter's kind of like
a bulletin board,
multiple chat rooms,
and a news feed.

All at once.
5-7 minutes for this next section: an overview of Twitter
tweet (noun): a 140-character or less message posted to Twitter

tweet (verb): to send a tweet

6randomdeanna's profile image@randomdeanna's "Why Twitter, anyways?" ... and "A non-fanatical beginner's guide to Twitter" are good starting points
introducing the @ notation
tweet (noun): a 140-character or less message posted to Twitter

tweet (verb): to send a tweet

8randomdeanna's profile imagefor people: conversations, expertise, news, staying connected, finding people who share your interests
9Building engaged communities that act - #p2you can include links as well.
with only 140 characters,
“url shorterners” are popular

10randomdeanna's profile imagefor organizations: outreach and a human voice. Spread the word, connect the dot, have conversations with your community
sample tweet from GFR
#hashtags are a way of grouping conversations. for example, #nim09 for this conference.
hashtags are also great for "Twitter chats" -- like #fem2 Sundays and #journchat Monday evenings

Mari Smith's video on hashtags
Twitter intro and background
Activism examples
Building your community on Twitter
examples: 9-12 minutes (1.5/2 on each).
Flash actions
14#dontgo logo#dontgo: tweeting from the floor of Congress and a counter-insurgency

on dontgo, talk about the interference from progressives
15#taxcuts tweet from cyn3matic
35 pages of hilarious tweets. what if it had turned into Skittlemania? with a call to action
see Tracy's Creating Twitter Hashtags that Inspire Action for more
16#motrinmoms: Twitter to the New York Times in 24 hours. motrin yanks ad, apologizes.
Planned actions
18Twitter Vote Report logo#votereport:
real-time reporting of voting conditions.
phone input too!
and great visualizations

19Twitter Vote Report: Ohio
TVR results for Ohio
20plodt: 5 longest delays for TVRAnalysis and display by plodtWyandach, at #1, is a 90% black city on Long Island.
Building community

22#tcot report logo#tcot: Top Conservatives on Twitter. leaderboard, mentoring, a ning, the #tcot report. drudge, eat your heart out!
23too many hashtagsHashtags for progressives include #topprog, #rebelleft, #green, #efca, #lgbt, #fem2, ...
24p2 logo#And #p2,
with a goal of bridging the gaps between progressives and #fem2, #woc, #lgbtq, ...

25Tweetleft screenshotTweetLeft lets you merge multiple hashtags. thx, @chrismesarole! (note: a useful general technique)
(table summarizing previous examples)
27The Fremont Troll, photo by Thom Watson“Please don’t feed the trolls” --
and other techniques for dealing with disruption
Photo: The Fremont Troll, Seattle, by Thom Watson. Licensed under Creative Commons
Twitter intro and background
Activism examples
Building your community on Twitter

29Twitter logoStep 1: join the conversation
  • Set up an account for your organization -- and for yourself
  • Start tweeting: updates, news, …
  • “Retweet” liberally
  • Figure out what works for you
  • Listen to what people are saying

30Old tools by Svadlifari
Step 2: choose your tools

  • Tweetdeck tracks keywords and lets you groups followers
  • Twhirl lets you tweet from several accounts at once
  • TweetChat feels like a chat room
  • helps you find people talking about same thing.
  • TweetStats, Twittersheep, Retweetist … if you want to do it, there's a tool for it.
See @GuyJohnson’s #nim09 presentation for more (password: nim09)
Photo: Old tools by Svadlifari. Licensed under Creative Commons
31accessible twitter logoTwitter has some #accessibility challanges. Dennis Lembrée's "Accessible Twitter" can help
32The people I follow on Twitter by CC Chapman
Step 3: engage
  • Ask your members -- and your followers -- what they want to see
  • Set up backchannels for meetings, presentations
  • Link up with “Twitterati”: journalists, pundits, …
  • Start scheduling Twitter Chats and Tweetups
  • And keep listening!
Photo: CC Chapman, The people I follow on Twitter. Licensed under Creative Commons.
33Word cloud of @myrnatheminx’ followers’ bios, produced using Twittersheep
Step 4: from adoption to action
  • Create your #hashtag
  • Get the word out about news stories, events, petitions, …
  • Collaborate with other activists -- and politicians
  • Look for opportunities for “flash actions”
  • Take advantage of ability to interact directly with “influentials”
Graphic: Word cloud of @myrnatheminx’ followers’ bios, produced using Twittersheep
Don’t be afraid to experiment!
  • Steal a page from Skittles book: when would it make sense to put a Twitter search on your home page?
  • What about a “tweet your legislator” campaign when the phones are jammed?
  • Try using Twitter in conjunction with Facebook, MySpace, digg, …
  • Remember: most things won’t work the first time. Listen, learn, refine!

Building engaged communities that act
@jdp23 and @MyrnaTheMinx
March 7 2009
Available online at

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