How to use Twitter to help your ideas catch fire


Hello Fellows!

At this next convening we’ll focus on the theme of CONTAGION — how we get our ideas to travel as quickly and widely as possible.  We’ll be doing some live experiments, working through some big concepts, and putting ideas into practice.

Tweet, tweet!

Some of this will involve using Twitter. So if you don’t have an account, please sign up for one asap. It could not be faster or easier—just go to

Some of you are already Twitter ninjas. Others may be all like, “Uh, Twitter? I don’t think so.” You may have the (very) mistaken notion that unless you want to yak away in 140 characters about what you had for lunch, there’s really not much point. Or you may think: Okay, I realize that I could amplify my public voice by tweeting out what I’ve written (good job!), but I only have, like 11 followers. Really, why bother?

Let me enlighten you.

  1. It’s ALWAYS worth tweeting your piece—and by tweeting it out directly to people with a particular interest in your issue (perhaps you oh-so-cleverly even cited their work in yours, where it was relevant), you can vastly increase your chances of getting attention. I have a personal success story here: I wrote a piece that mentioned Nick Kristof—a college classmate whom I barely knew back in the day—and then tweeted it to him. He kindly re-tweeted, making it one of my most circulated pieces ever.

2. Twitter is not only a great way to send out ideas – it’s also a super smart and efficient way to keep your ear to the ground. I know many academics, news reporters and others who may rarely tweet themselves but rely heavily on Twitter lists to monitor current events. (Twitter lists are easy to create. As noted above, once you all share your handles—hint, hint—we will create one for this Fellowship).

3. Twitter is a fabulous way to connect with editors—to ask them if they’re open to a pitch, among other things. (We used this strategy with Abby’s piece since we didn’t have a confirmed current contact at the Wisconsin outlets she was targeting.) It puts you on their radar screen and lets you know that they aren’t incommunicado.

4. Twitter allows you to follow and participate in meetings and conferences through the use of Twitter hashtags. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try googling or ask a tech savvy friend. We can also talk more about this when we convene.)

Finally, a disclaimer: I am not much of a tweeter myself these days, though I did go through a phase. I’ve found that, for me, Facebook is more effective in connecting with the folks I want to connect with. But that varies a lot! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on—you are the only one who can determine what social media strategy best works for you. The only thing I’d say for sure: You really need to have one. As the saying goes: “Social is the new front page.”

Let the brainstorming begin—and we’ll see you very soon!

As always,

Periodically we share wisdom from our team with our community. The above letter was sent as a weekly missive to the Public Voices Fellowship cohort at Dartmouth University from leader Amy Gutman. 

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