Winning the Internet

We want to send out a bunch of tweets about…

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Have you ever opened an email from one of your partners or program staff that starts off like this? It happened to me this week.

The statement “We want to send out a bunch tweets about…” came into my inbox and went directly into my not digital strategy list. The request did not pass go and it didn’t collect $200. But it didn’t go directly to jail either.

I took a deep breath and used it as an opportunity to share some ideas about basic “Tweet Anatomy”.

While I wanted to use the opportunity to share thoughts about smart digital strategy, the time wasn’t right. If I responded with, “Can we step back and talk about larger campaign goals you are working toward with this idea of wanting to Tweet...” I would have lost them. So instead, I responded with a simple breakdown of “Tweet Anatomy” basics and how they could apply it in this situation to help develop their tweets. (I also sent sample tweets just in case they weren’t ready to fish.)

I learned basic tweet anatomy in 2009 from my friend and mentor Alan Rosenblatt (@drdigipol). Alan is a leading thinker, academic and activist in internet advocacy. There are people who say that Alan developed the political and strategic use of hashtags for social change and issue advocacy. So I learned from the best. Read more from Alan on his Dr. DigiPol Tumblr blog.

Here is how I understand what Alan teaches about good tweet anatomy.

Basic tweet anatomy includes 3 standard elements:
1)  A provoking yet concise ask, message, or info with link (limit to 125-130 characters to allow for easy retweeting)
2) 1-3 hashtags to join to relevant conversations
3) Include @influentialperson to help get your ask or message on thought & action leader radars
The “We want to send out a bunch tweets about…” request came from someone who works in a different issue area. They reached out because they want to start tweeting about the Safe Chemicals Act. So, I offered ideas about using basic tweet anatomy and included a few sample tweets. Here is an edited version of what I sent. Next time you get a request like this, please feel free to adapt this info to help turn it into a teaching moment instead of your head popping off.
Here are some thoughts that might help you to develop tweets in this new area.
#1 Clear ask, message or info to share:
  • Focus tweets on why we need the Safe Chemicals Act and connect it to issues your current audience cares about
  • Link to recent relevant and timely articles about toxics in the news and connected to issues your audience cares about (we like articles from
  • Make advocacy asks a part of the stream, drive emails or calls to Congress using the SCHF action:  or use your own system and messaging
Example Tweet:
Dr DigiPol Tweet
#2 Hashtags:
  • Include any of these hashtags whenever possible: #SafeChemicalsAct, #TSCA, #saferchemicals
  • Also add in commonly used #yourissue hashtags. This will help move the safe chemicals act message into ‘your issue’  world.
Example Tweet:
SCHF Bigger Tweet
MoveOn Tweet
#3 Influentials:
  • Tweet @Influential people in your issue space for example: @Influential3, @Influential3,@Influential3 etc to help get them on board with the new issue area.
  • Tweet at any Senators with whom your movement has influence .

Example Tweet:

Caitline Dunn TweetIt is important to note that not every tweet will have all three components- but every tweet should have at least one of the three and most will have two. Onward and upward in using Twitter together to make the world a better place!

About Lizandra Vidal

I live in Washington DC and work as a digital strategist and yoga teacher. I love the digital world, social media, and yoga for the creativity and connections they all create s in our everyday lives.

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