Advocacy as Easy as One, Two, Tweet!

The evolution of contacting your members of Congress has changed with the times. From snail mail to faxing to emailing to tweeting, there are a multitude of channels that get the message across in different ways. In the case of tweeting, you can cut through the clutter. It’s instantaneous and ubiquitous: 80 percent of congressional members have a social media account, according to Pew Research.

In keeping with ICBA leadership community bankers lobbying their members of Congress during this month’s Washington Policy Summit, here are some guidelines for tweeting your representatives and senators:

Keep it short: The art of Twitter is to get to the point right away. If you must include a longer sentence or thought, break up it into bite-size chunks and use the numbers 1/2 or 2/2 (or however many you need) after each tweet to make sure your member of Congress knows your tweets are connected. Generally, after four consecutive tweets, a better strategy would be to email or call instead.

Everything is on record: When you tweet, it goes to the world. Yes, you may have a protected Twitter account, but it is still floating online somewhere for someone to discover. So always be wary that once you tweet a message, you cannot take it back (even if you delete it). Also keep in mind: Since April 2010, the Library of Congress officially began keeping a record of all public tweets.

Use appropriate hashtags: To connect your thoughts to a relevant conversation, use hashtags when you can. This way, your tweet will not be lost in the shuffle and might even gain more exposure in the Twittersphere. Check the ICBA social media landing page for relevant advocacy hashtags. But limit your use of hashtags to two or three per tweet; more is overkill.

Know when to engage: When tweeting for advocacy purposes, inevitably, there will be occasions when other Twitter users (even maybe your member of Congress) may disagree with you and tweet back a rebuttal. So know when to stop tweeting, especially when the conversation gets heated.

Generally, be courteous and wise, state your opinions and back up misconceptions, and then after that, simply agree to disagree and stop tweeting back. Sometimes, if someone you don’t know tweets back at you, it’s good to check out who he or she is before responding.

To be included in ICBA’s advocacy tweet alert emails, please email me your contact information. endmark

Ann Chen is ICBA’s senior social media specialist.