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Twitter for Advocacy

With an estimate of one billion unique visitors a month, using Twitter for advocacy has many advantages. Twitter is the best way to stay up to date with events in real-time. It connects not only what your doing to others in the social media community, but it also creates a community within itself of likeminded users. Twitter allows you to network, follow trends, create a trend through hashtag usage, interact real-time with the online community and much more.

Twitter works much like sending a group text message to everyone in your phone contacts. The exceptions? Twitter posts, or "tweets", are limited to 140 characters. Additionally, most users include hashtags, a word or phrase proceeded by a pound sign, to track trends or identify specific messages. And like other social media sites, Twitter has a Help Center that provides clarification on everything from setting up an account to explaining the usage of a hashtag.

Anatomy of a Tweet

Now that you know what a tweet basically consists of, it is helpful to understand the complete anatomy of a tweet. Below is an image from The Connection that sums it up nicely.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

As simple as it may seem, there is an are to tweeting. Making sure your tweet is sent out with the correct content, to the right audience, at the right time, and with the best selected hashtag are all important to getting the most out of this social media platform. So when thinking of sending out a tweet remember these few statistics:

Build, Identify and Strengthen

The next step to successful advocacy on Twitter is to build your audience, identify your partners and strengthen your relationships. When building your audience think of key education players you want to attract. Follow issue reporters, bloggers, and partners. Identify who is on your team and already has a big following. Build partnerships by joining their chats, tweet out their resources and use their hashtags. Work to get them to follow you by retweeting their posts, posting their content relevant to your issues, and by driving your content to their attention. 

Retweeting is how Twitter users share interesting tweets from the users you follow to the users who are following you. By clicking on the retweet button at the bottom of any post, Twitter will automatically allow you to retweet the message to your followers. In the screenshot below, from the website Mashable, you will see what a basic retweet looks like.








For clarification, in the screenshot RT is the acronym for retweet and appears before every message you share from another user. The @mashable portion of the message alerts the originator of the post that you are retweeting their message.

Finding Content and Increasing Engagement

Figuring out what to tweet or retweet can be difficult in the beginning but it becomes easier as you get more comfortable. Trust us! 

When searching for content remember these tips: 

Now that you have your Twitter feed on fire with original tweets and retweets of your "friends", remember to keep your followers engaged. Here are four simple tips for increasing engagement:

  1. Be interactive.
    Ask questions, respond to followers, use the @ sign (“Tag”) to get your tweets noticed by specific users.
  2. Know who/what you’re retweeting!
    Twitter posts travel fast. One wrong retweet can destroy the credibility you have worked so hard to gain.
  3. No extended debates on social media.
    Remember that anything posted on the internet lasts forever. Somewhere, someone with a click of the button will screenshot, download or retweet your posts.
  4. Try to include a link or a graphic.
    Followers like to see what you are talking about. Include links or graphics whenever possible. Raise ESP awareness by posting photos of you or other ESP participating in rallies, school board meetings or association events.

Build Your Credibility as a Resource


Using an ALL-CAPS intro is a great way to break through the "noise" in social media, but just like when using (#) hashtags, don’t overdo it! Effective all-caps attention getters include:

    All three words are effective ways to get attention.
    This is a great tool to build relationships with reporters or bloggers and to get them to follow back. It also does not imply any support or endorsement.
  • FYI
    This intro is typically targeted to a specific reporter in response to their post or story.
    In Case You Missed It. This is a way to alert followers to your content after several days/weeks have past since you originally posted it. 

You can further build your credibility by connecting breaking news or trending #hashtags to your content. This enables you to expose your resources to a much larger audience. By replying to reporters’ and bloggers’ tweets with links to valuable content, it further establishes you as a resource, as well as lets them know you are responsive and actively following them. You can also ask questions on posts of your "friends" to show them you are aware of the issue, interested and engaged.

Conduct a Successful Hashtag Campaign

You have identified your audience, built relationships with your "friends", and are now looked at as a credible source by your followers. Now use your well earned reputation to help fuel a successful hashtag campaign for your issue.

  1. If it's not broke, don't fix it.
    Look for existing, well-used hashtags that you can adopt for your campaign (#ESPsRock, #ESPvoices, #education, #edchat, #ICYMI, #TGIF).
  2. Don't assume.
    Acronyms used in print or in conversation are VERY different from acronyms used in social media. Where #ESP may mean Education Support Professionals to you, in the social media world of hashtags this is actually a popular subject specific, education hashtag meaning English for Specific Purposes.
  3. Don't be surprised.
    Social media is full of creative hashtags. Your original hashtag just may not be so original after all. Always do a search on Twitter for any hashtags you "create". Make sure your new hashtag isn’t already being used for another purpose.
  4. Keep it short – and preferably obvious
    Hashtags should be short and to the point. You want it to be memorable, catchy and specific to your campaign (Ex. #NEAreads)
  5. Use those partnerships!
    You have spent plenty of time building partnerships and making connections. Reach out to your "friends" to get help with disseminating your hashtag campaign. Contact those you follow through direct messages, personal messages between two users, or by tagging them in your campaign post often. Sooner or later they will catch on if they are interested in the same issues and take the same position.

The world wide web has a host of sites with listings of successful hashtag campaigns. Download, print and keep close the Popular Educational Twitter Hashtags infographic from to use as a future reference.