How many times have you heard, or even uttered “I don’t get Twitter”? Or “I don’t see the point of it”.
I hear it so often from volunteers, friends, and family and I think it’s a real shame. I am pretty active on Twitter – though I will admit I am more of ‘curator’ than a ‘creator’ and I don’t generally use it to put out useless information (except for how slow the internet is here) like what the weather is like, or what I had for breakfast or who bit who in the World Cup. I use it almost entirely for conservation and find it an incredibly powerful tool. If you don’t see the point then you’ve never been more right – you don’t get it, and you’re missing out.
So, if you fancy trying something new (which is the spice of life you guys) I’m going to attempt to walk you through it, as a conservation professional, with a few simple steps. For these, I’m going to assume you are using Twitter for professional marine conservation purposes and have a good grasp of other social media like Facebook.
Step 1: Think of your ‘handle’
This is your username. If you are using it for work purposes (and even if you’re not, it’s public you know) then I’d make sure you treat it the same as you would your professional email address. An abbreviation of your name or your cause/ NGO. No @sexiestdiverever or @sharkzrule4eva please.
Step 2: Add your bio.
Short and sweet – explain what professional areas you are interested in, what your degree was or what company/ NGO you work for. It will help other people decide if they share common interests with you and whether they want to follow you or not.
It’s always smart to add a little disclosure like “All tweets my own” so you don’t get your higher powers in trouble for an errant rant on the state of the world or the like.
Step 3: Follow Organizations, Governments, People, Stephen Fry and Walrus.
Twitter is one of my main sources for conservation news, opinions and jobs. At the time of writing, I follow 451 twitter accounts and most provide me with value in
- – bringing light to new conservation issues,
- – learning about my professional role models, and even interacting with them,
- – providing the latest scientific news and opinion,
- – keeping track of the latest jobs available,
- – keeping track of funding bodies and their projects
- – injecting humour into my day
- – keep track of the who’s who and what’s what at national and international conferences I can’t attend
Every major conservation organisation and many many many minor ones have Twitter accounts. Not everything they tweet is posted on Facebook so it’s an alternate source of information. You can follow NGOs, IGOs (inter-governmental organisations) and the influential people in your sector giving a really nice overview of differing topics. See below for a more comprehensive list.
Step 4: Tweet, Retweet and hashtag your heart out
Learning the Twitterlingo makes the whole process a lot less scary, and it’s less complicated than it first appears.
- – Tweet: a 140 character update, not unlike to a status update on Facebook, minus the waffle.
- – Retweet (RT): Sharing someone else’s tweet onto your feed – your followers can see this.
- – @ – directs a tweet to a twitter account like “Hey @madasamarinebio – thanks for your blog post on Twitter, it changed my life”. This would be seen on your feed, and I would get a notification (thanks!) and could even retweet it to my own feed. It’s kind of like tagging someone on a Facebook status.
- – #conservation – hashtags are a way to tag content, rather than people/ Twitter accounts. You can search other people’s tweets and subjects by hashtags, create one where people can hashtag content you want to see
If you are sharing a news story about UNEPs latest report on plastic, it might look like: “Check out @UNEP s latest report on #plastic in the #ocean. Shocking! [Link]”
NB. #probably #not #a #good #idea #to #hashtag #your #heart #out #it’s #pretty #annoying. Select keywords to tag.
Step 5: Make or join a ‘list’
Lists are a useful way to keep track of the main players in a topic you are interested in or to divide your tweet feed into more digestible chunks.
Step 6: Accept that Twitter is here, and it’s not going anywhere.
As many of us in the conservation industry are working with NGOs, you would be in good stead to accept that this type of outreach is going to be the norm within a few years, if not already. The sooner you’re on board, the less you’re left behind!
There are lots of interesting articles on the subject if you need more convincing:
Volunteering/ Jobs Twitter accounts to follow
There are so many people and organisations to follow, but since we’re all about employment in the conservation sector, here’s a list of the small fraction of resources (including us!) available to your job hunting mission. Good luck and happy tweeting!