A little birdy told Peace Exchange that the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) had offered another packed-with-information workshop last week.
A workshop that introduced participants to the power and many uses of the popular microblogging platform Twitter.
Even though the symbol of the little blue bird frequently shows up on web pages, only one year ago, statistics showed Cypriots had little time for capturing their thoughts or activities, or engaging with ‘followers’, by means of the Haiku-like 140 characters offered by Twitter. It was all about Facebook.
That has changed, and apparently there are just as many of us Tweeting as checking our Facebook feeds these days.
Which means CCMC’s workshop was particularly timely, as Twitter is yet one more tool in civil society organisations’ tool-kits for engaging with and mobilising their stakeholders.
Topics were pitched at the beginner level, but much ground was covered.
Participants learned how to customise their Twitter accounts, harness the power of retweets, hashtags and keywords and try out applications to identify and monitor topics being tweeted about in real time, such as: twitterfall, twendr.com, twinitor.com and twitscoop.com.
They also learned Tweeting strategies to build and mobilise their networks.
A simple tactic is to find (e.g. by using listorious.com) influential Tweeters with many followers in a particular niche, and then follow who they’re following, thereby making the most of similar ‘communities’.
Another key practice is to develop a distinct ‘voice’ and to listen and respond to followers, without merely blasting them with information.
The workshop also stressed that while Twitter was a very valuable tool for activists and civil society organisation to reach people and affect change, it could not simply replace grassroots mobilisation of stakeholders.
One of the case studies used that illustrated this point well was the recent uprising in Egypt. While Twitter certainly played a key role in coordinating people, protesters in the street were still also verbally communicating to those not online about where and at what times to gather.
A lot of material to cover in the space of two short hours, but those attending the workshop were certainly left with an array of knowledge and tips to put into use.
As one participant noted: “Inspiration and change can start online, and the momentum can be increased through grassroots activism and physical gatherings or events – this is the change process in our century.
“We were so excited after the training and we hope we see a Twitterstorm – where people come together to tweet on the same topic at the same time – in Cyprus really soon.”
Good stuff indeed, and you can be sure CCMC will be offering more tools, tips and insight in the months ahead.
That’s all for this week, but we’ll be back again shortly, so watch this space!