Sunday, January 31, 2010

A beginners guide to political tweeting

It took me a while to put together my list of Top Scottish Political Tweeters this week. While I was going through them, a few stood out as good, some were not good, and a few were just plain ugly.

So with that in mind, here's my unasked for advice to potential (or the large number of lapsed) Scottish political tweeters.

First - the basics. My top tips for political tweeters who are starting out are:

  • Tweet often, at least once or twice a day.
  • If in doubt, make your first tweet about what you did/are doing today, and your second one your view on the big issue of the day.
  • Follow others to learn (but don’t just follow people you agree with
  • DON'T TWEET IN CAPITAL LETTERS. SERIOUSLY

Still thinking about it, but not sure why you should bother?

Using Twitter can be like gaining super human hearing – you can pick up everything that is said about you or the things that matter to you. With a couple of clicks you can overhear individuals praising your latest policy, moaning about poor services or just expressing their opinions on the big issues of the day.

This is the sort of information that political parties (and private companies and organisations) pay huge sums of cash for and it's yours for free just by typing your name/your party's name/today's issue into the search box on Twitter, or using a free service like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

If you get stuck or want more information, Mashable’s guide to Twitter is clear and informative, especially for beginners.

The other main objection is the good old “What if I say something stupid/unpopular and everyone found out and wouldn't this be terrible?” argument. Well, you're right. But if you just try to be a grown up about it all you should be OK.

Think before you tweet. I know we all sometimes think stuff in the blissful haven of our own minds that if we said it out loud would make us sound weird or get us in trouble. Being real or authentic isn't the same as being crass or stupid. So just say it out loud before you tweet. (Or pretend to say it out loud if you're on the bus, etc.) This will definately help prevent disaster.

Happy Tweeting.