Welcome to Louisiana Lefty, a podcast about politics and community in Louisiana, where we make the case that the health of the state requires a strong progressive movement fueled by the critical work of organizing on the ground. Our goal is to democratize information, demystify party politics, and empower you to join the mission because victory for Louisiana requires you.
We hope you enjoyed Season One of Louisiana Lefty. This month we're on summer break. So while we won't be releasing new interviews until August, we will be providing you with some Action Lefty mini-pods to fill in the gaps until then.
Last week, I gave a brief Twitter 101 for beginners. If that's info you've already mastered, keep it in mind as a resource for folks you recruit to organize online with you. Twitter can be an effective space for campaigns and advocacy groups to get a message out to politicians, journalists, and voters.
Whether you want to get more eyes on a candidate you support, or track what an opposition candidate is saying at their events, there are a couple of options for doing that through tweeting. First, you can live tweet an event, where you type out, for example, snippets of content from a speech or audience interactions and responses to the speaker, in a series of tweets, or a "Twitter thread." A second option is to actually live broadcast the event on your Twitter feed through the camera function within the Twitter app. Recording live is certainly simpler to do, gives you more accurate quotes, and the benefit of visuals, with no time limit to your recording. However, many candidate events will not allow recording, so you'll have to revert to the idea of live tweeting. Both these options work just as well for any kind of event with a live presentation like educational panels, committee hearings, or even protests and marches.
Don't forget to give your content the best chance for being seen by using popular relevant hashtags. I'll post some of the ones we use most frequently in Louisiana politics in the podcast notes. We use #lalege for legislative tweets, #lagov for content on issues around the governor, and #lasen for tweets on our US Senate races. Of course, make sure you're spelling them right or they won't do what you need them to do. An additional way to get your content seen is by tagging journalists and allied organizations who you think might be interested in the information.
Another great use I've found of Twitter live recordings has been man-on-the-street interviews for advocacy work. Whether at a demonstration, a press conference, or speak out, if you don't get the media coverage you'd hoped for, you can be the conduit making sure the voice of people is heard by conducting live interviews and sharing them online using the same tactics we've previously mentioned. For written content, you can still share quotes from people whose stories you want to get out. Whenever possible, include photographs to illustrate your tweets, they'll be much more likely to get noticed and shared. Just remember you're going to want landscape orientation on your pictures instead of portrait due to Twitter image constraints.
For candidates, make sure you're sharing testimonials from your supporters through videos and painting a story about your campaign through visual images of your volunteers. While voters want to hear what you have to say, your supporters, both grassroots and grasstops, are your best surrogates and validators. Let them help define who you are to the voters. My advice is to share your own message through posts and links to positive stories, highlighting your campaigns vision, and curate a feed showing authentically engaged and invested volunteers. I do not recommend getting bogged down in back and forth with opponents and negative Twitter trolls.
For folks supporting candidates and activist organizations, remember, anyone can see your tweets, including current and future employers. Businesses routinely search social media for insight on potential employees. Tweet accordingly. For that matter, if you're connected to a campaign, people will see you as a representative of your candidate and your allies. don't tweet anything you don't think they'd be proud of.
One last thing I'll suggest for you to do with this social media site is organize Twitter storms. This is an action where multiple tweeters organize around a specific topic to bring attention to it, and with luck, trend on Twitter, at least locally. I'll post a link in the podcast notes to more specifics on this. But here are the basics. While this is a digital activity, at the end of the day, it's still organizing, and should be planned like any action you might put together with your group. As always, you should have a hashtag. While you can include a well-known hashtag, you should definitely have a unique hashtag for your storm. Remember to check to make sure your special hashtag is not already being used for some other purpose by some other group on Twitter. You can then choose folks to target and tag them in your posts. This can be elected officials, CEOs, utilities, committee members, anyone who may be creating policy or in some way impacting your campaign. Choose a day and time for your storm that coincides with a big announcement, a live event, or anything else that makes sense to plan around. A concentrated timeframe of 1 to 3 hours, when your tweeters can be available and at-the-ready, is ideal. Images remain important for getting noticed, so prepare some graphics or GIFs to share with your tweeters in advance. I also find it helpful to give a series of sample Twitter-length messages. Once your Twitter storm is planned, you'll need to recruit volunteers to make sure it succeeds. So like I said, it's all still organizing. Just because it's online, it doesn't mean you can just put the word out on social media and expect folks to act on it. You'll need to make calls, send texts, DM your people and have more than one interaction with them to get them to show up for your action. With proper planning, you can get a successful action that's fun for volunteers, gets attention and potentially earns press or even just shifts a media narrative on a larger story.
And with every action you do with your allies, supporters and volunteers, remember thank them for their work when it's done, and let them know what success they've helped to achieve.
Don't forget to check her podcast notes for resources. And tweet us at @LouisianaLefty if you have any questions. We'll be back next week with another Action Lefty mini-pod.
Thank you for listening to Louisiana Lefty. Thanks to Ben Collinsworth for producing Louisiana Lefty, to Jen Pack of Black Cat Studios for our super lefty artwork, and Thousand $ Car for letting us use their swamp pop classic, Security Guard, as our Louisiana Lefty theme song.