Volunteer Guide: How to Use Twitter to Campaign for Your Candidate

Looking for an easy yet effective way to help your candidate win the election? Twitter is an important tool to make a difference without much additional time or effort. Even small measures on Twitter are helpful, and if you like it then it’s simple to increase the results!

If you are already familiar with Twitter, click here to skip the intro.

We’ve all heard about Twitter to some degree. Folks who have not yet seen Twitter have probably heard that it’s where people announce what they had for breakfast, as if it’s all narcissistic and trivial. Admittedly… it happens. But it’s usually ironic. Or artsy. People like to take pictures of their food. I don’t know why. Just ignore it. Unless you, also, like to take pictures of your food, in which case… um, enjoy.

Ordinary people are using Twitter to change the course of history. Sounds like hyperbole, sure – but it’s true. Journalists and analysts are keeping close eyes on trends in Twitter because the service provides second-by-second picture of what’s happening all over the world.

On the smaller scale, one normal person can spend an afternoon and develop an audience of one or two hundred people. A few afternoons can result in hundreds more. Even more casually, one person with just a handful of an audience can help raise the profile of his cause or candidate just by mentioning them by name. Although that person might only have ten people reading them directly, Google and other companies’ automated system will notice mention of that candidate and automatically consider that candidate a little more more important.

How to Get Started
Go to the Twitter website and make an account. Choose a username that is easy to spell, not too long, and easy to remember. After you sign up, Twitter will walk you through some simple steps to get started.

Basic Terminology
On Twitter, you subscribe to someone by “following” them; others on Twitter will subscribe to you by becoming your “follower”. You can refer to another person directly with @username. My username is lorienjohnson, therefore anyone who wants to refer to me or speak to me directly would type @lorienjohnson in the message. That username also becomes the link to one’s direct page. For example, I can be found at http://twitter.com/lorienjohnson

For more introduction to Twitter, go to their Twitter 101 Guide. It’s clear, simple, and will answer your questions!
 
A candidate’s online exposure increases every time her name is published. Google and other companies judge entities – people, causes, websites, etc – by how frequently they are mentioned online. Want to help your candidate?

1. Talk about them. Mention them by name. Use their username! For example,
“I just read @MyFavCandidate in the Kansas City Star! John Doe is really committed to representing us and protecting the Constitution.”

Simple. No research or creativity needed. Just say what you think. Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, you are freed from having to sound clever. Just mention your candidate by name!

2. Use hashtags. What are they? Read what Twitter says.  Some of the popular hashtags is #tcot – “top conservatives on Twitter” or #tlot – “top libertarians on Twitter”. This helps people searching for conservative and/or libertarian information see your tweet. Do the same for anything relevant for your area, and make your own. Use your congressional district, even. For example,
“@MyFavCandidate is debt-free. That’s who I want in Congress. #fiscalresponsibility #MO2 #tcot #teaparty”

3. Retweet your candidate. If she says something on Twitter, click the “retweet” button that looks like circular arrows. One click and you’ve just made their day a little bit brighter. Nice.

4. Take pictures at events and post them to Twitter. This is extremely helpful. This shows your community that a) your candidate is active and working hard, and b) you care enough to be there to help your candidate in person! Many ways to do this exist. If you use a smartphone, then your basic Twitter app will let you take and post a picture. Personally, I frequently use Instagram because it lets me either let the picture stay as-is or make it look prettier if my phone’s picture wasn’t impressive the first time, and more importantly it lets me post the photo to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. Download and install the Instagram App from your smartphone’s app store. Read Instagram’s guide to taking and sharing photos. Make sure you include the candidate’s username / name and relevant hashtags in the caption. For example, here is a tweet that I once sent from an event for a candidate I support. Click it to view full-size. Note, I should have mentioned @JacobTurk in the tweet to maximize exposure!

5. Increase your audience. If you’re doing the simple steps above then you’re helping your candidate in a significant way. If more people follow you, then you’re helping your candidate in an exponentially bigger way. Start by going to your candidate’s Twitter and clicking on their “Followers” in the upper right area of their Twitter page. This will show you a list of who is following your candidate. Follow those people.  You have a shared interest in that candidate so you likely have other shared interests or values. As you interact with them on Twitter by replying to them or retweeting what they say, their followers will take notice and start to follow you too. Do the same for the Twitter for your region’s Tea Party groups, liberty-oriented clubs, newspapers, bloggers, businesses… and your numbers will grow. This article explains the basic principles of increasing your audience.

An hour spent getting started on Twitter gives you the ability to take one minute out of your day to promote your candidate or cause. How many minutes do you spend complaining – justifiably! – about your government? Commit to spending one of those minutes on Twitter to help your candidate win the election.

If you enjoyed this post, please share to Twitter and Facebook and consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Thank you! - Lorien

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