Part of the popular adage that says “Twitter is for the people you want to know” rings true for one of the most active social network with 255,000,000 monthly active users sending 500,000,000 tweets per day. Twitter’s mission is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers” and it does that by providing the launching pad with which individuals can connect across geographic and time barriers. For the Diversity Professional, Twitter provides a great way to stay active in the conversation surrounding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), and an excellent way to disseminate information to a broader audience than you would be able to reach in a classroom or conference keynote/workshop. Twitter opens up doors for connecting with people, in real-time, in ways that were never before possible, thus today I’ll share 4 Things You Need to Know About the Real-Time News Network to help you capitalize on the popularity of this network, and the like-minded brethren you’re likely to find inhabiting it:
- Twitter Gets News First: It’s been proven time and time again that news breaks on Twitter first, the most notable case being the news of the Boston Marathon Explosions and the subsequent manhunt for the suspects. Many stories often break on Twitter 10-15 minutes before it hits the cable news or major TV networks. One of the reasons this happens is because this news is being disseminated by real people sharing (or tweeting) their real-time news with their followers (i.e. people that have opted to see the tweets (or updates) they share publicly via their timeline). All news released on Twitter isn’t all bad and devastating, but the fact remains that this is the place to get information first, if your goal is to stay in the know. As a diversity professional, Twitter can become one of your first lines of defense for observing trends and happenings in your industry, as well as in the world in general. Utilize Twitter’s search function to search for real-time news on any topic, or follow a hashtag which allows you to follow a relevant keyword or phrase as it’s happening on the network. See our “Diversity Chats” and follow #DiversityCAN (in Canada) and #Diversity4US (in the U.S.) as excellent examples of how these functions work.
- Twitter Helps You Build Community: Twitter is an awesome way to build an engaged community and connect with colleagues in different locations and time zones. Again, using the function of the Twitter Search, you can find like-minded individuals based on broad terms like “equity”, “diversity” and “inclusion”, or by searching the names and institutions of people you already know that might be on the network. A great way to capitalize on building a community on Twitter is not just to find great folks, but figure out the best way to engage them. For example, everyone you find interesting on Twitter may not be worthwhile for you to follow, however you can list them on a Twitter List (a curated list of Twitter users), and review their respective list when you’re in the mood for learning more about their latest updates. The benefits of using Twitter Lists is that you can segment the types of news that appears on your timeline, and learn more about those you want to engage on the network, and discover the best way to approach them to begin a conversation.
- Twitter Can Help You Lead the Conversation on Diversity: One of the best ways to capitalize on this popular social network that so many already inhabit is to bring organizational structure to an unstructured environment. Lots of conversations are happening on Twitter, however there is an opportunity to lead the conversation by taking methodical steps organize and monitor the digital conversation surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion. #Diversity4US and #DiversityCAN are excellent examples of leading the EDI conversation on Twitter, as right now you can search either to find real-time updates that may be occurring on those hashtags. These hashtags also grab the reins of the EDI topic and provide a structured way in which people can follow and engage others interested in having a diversity-related conversation on the network.
- Twitter Can Help You Expand the Reach of Your Audience: Not only is Twitter a great place to engage and build community, but it’s also a great place to expand the reach of your audience if your mission is to move the conversation beyond the U.S. border or in languages other than English. Approximately 77% of accounts registered on Twitter are outside of the U.S., and they support more than 35 different languages. Twitter is also very mobile-friendly, with nearly 80% of people connecting to the network via a mobile device, and it integrates with other social networks and apps, giving you the chance to reach new audience members on their preferred network and hopefully lead them to interact with you on Twitter.
As a Diversity Professional planning on seizing the opportunities that Twitter has to offer, these four (4) tips steer you in the right direction. I would advise however, that you not engage the network in a professional capacity without having a Social Media Marketing Plan in place, even if it’s only for your individual professional development. Take some time to learn the network and what you may be able to gain from it before diving right end and learning lessons the hard way (like Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) did recently when it opted to mock the poor in an ill-conceived attempt to connect with their audience via a popular meme). From an organizational standpoint, as a Diversity Professional seeking to use the social web to promote your department’s vision or mission, having a Social Media Policy is a no-brainer!
Kindra Cotton, Social Media Specialist
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