If social networking can help topple governments, it can sure as heck help you find a good vegan sandwich. Not that you should necessarily tweet about said sandwich or every meal, lest you start a Twitter snooze-fest. The point, though, is that Twitter isn't just an indulgence for the celebrity-crazed or for narcissistic navel-gazers. It's a tool that, if used correctly, can help you on your journey into plant-based living and possibly topple mega-corporations like Tyson in addition to Middle Eastern dictators.
That's according to author Erik Marcus in a recent article,"Twitter for Food Activists," on his highly trafficked Vegan.com blog. He claims that "
Twitter can totally transform your advocacy by keeping you better informed, and deepening your ties to other outstanding activists. You can learn the basics in minutes, and master the platform within hours." I highly recommend reading the article for a primer on how Twitter works, and I agree wholeheartedly with his claim, but I must also add that it's not just helpful for food activists; it's helpful for anyone who's seeking a little more information or inspiration on their journey to better health and a more compassionate, sustainable lifestyle. Here's how it's helpful:
1. It can connect you to a community
of veg-conscious/health-conscious/eco-conscious people all over the world.
2. It can give you a sense of belonging
if the people in your family and your community at home don't support/understand your diet.
3. Opening a twitter account is easy peasy
compared to starting your own blog.
4. It's a micro-blogging platform that caps your posts at 140 characters
, so no need to spend hours updating a blog.
5. The 140-character cap forces people to be brief and lets you scroll quickly through others' posts
so you can find something that interests you.
6. If you do have a blog or website, it's a great way to disseminate your blog posts into the world
7. If you offer a product or a service or belong to an organization, it's a great way to build your brand
by attracting "followers" and sharing information with them about it.
8. If you're not offering a product or service but want information on certain topics, then following experts in the field
will allow you to read their posts and see their links.
9. The "retweet" feature allows information to go viral. If you like an article or a post that someone's linked to, you can just "retweet" it,
and it will be shared with all of your followers.
10. The hashtag feature
, which is the # character, allows for many people to weigh in on the same topic. So, for example, if you want to see what vegans eat, just put #whatveganseat in the search box
, and the results will display posts by everyone who included #whatveganseat into their tweets. I just did it and found these lovely, creamy taquitos by @MegVegLibrarian.
Nom nom nom.
Now for some basic tips:
1. You don't have to tweet much, but to attract followers, you should tweet regularly
2. You don't have to try to attract followers. You don't even have to tweet at all
. You can just read what others are saying.
3. You'll notice that sharing links to articles is a big part of the Tweetosphere. To shorten the urls and to conserve space for your commentary, you can use an url-shortening website such as bitly.com or tinyurl.com
and copy and paste the shortened version into your tweet.
4. The more people you follow, the more people will follow you.
5. If you really like certain people or orgs on Twitter, you can spread the word about them to your followers by taking advantage of Follow Fridays. On Fridays, just write #FF and include the profiles you like.
Something like this:#FF love for foxy veg ladies @vegangoodthings
6. Not sure whom to follow? Pick some people you respect and see who they follow
and who follows them.
To get you started, I'll share some Tweeps (Twitter peeps) whom I recommend following. For general news: @vegandotcom @vegnews; for recipes: @vegweb @lunchboxbunch @mgonyeo; for health/nutrition: @pcrm @theveganrd; for enviro/celeb news: @huffpostgreen @ecorazzi; for fashion and more: @girliegirlarmy @discerningbrute; for food policy news: @appetite4profit @marionnestle; for animal advocacy: @jenniferfearing @ourhenhouse @peta; for veg news in L.A.: @quarrygirl; for veg news in NYC: @supervegan; for veg news in San Fran: @vegansaurus
7. Be yourself.
Don't be one of these people with a Social Media Personality Disorder
8. Having a huge number of followers doesn't equate social marketing success; it's about cultivating relationships. The more you reply to others' posts, the more they will want to reply to yours. Don't just spew info; interact.
9. Try not to have more than two Twitter accounts
to keep things simple: one for personal use and one for professional. My professional account is @vegucated
, which I share with Demetrius Bagley, co-tweeter/co-producer of our documentary, Vegucated
10. Having a Twitter account is like having a juicer; it only works if you use it!
By the way, I ordered a new juicer today that came recommended by a Twitter friend. See? It works, it works!This week your mission is to start a Twitter account
or, if you already have one, spend five minutes exploring and interacting. Then, write a post that includes #veganatheart in it so that we can all find each other
and have the option to follow each other.
See you in Twitterland!Marisa
How have you found Twitter helpful? Do you have any other Twitter tips? Please leave a comment or rate this mission.