Community Organizing and Creating Allies on Twitter

Twitter can be very noisy due to an enormous amount of tweets and random people who can make their way into your timeline. In the beginning when you are trying to become accustomed to the twitter culture, twitter lists, faves, retweets, and obtaining followers may seem like another exercise of gaining friends on Facebook. Unlike Facebook, twitter will never ask, ” Do you know this person”? This lack of barriers provide a unique opportunity for twitter users to seek out collaborators and allies for a particular cause, shared passion, or to community organize.

Twitter Reach
Example of Twitter Reach

Private accounts on Twitter receive the least amount of connectivity and interactivity. Most people will not follow back a private account because you can’t retweet anything insightful or informational posted by a private user because its private. If you approach Twitter with no expectation of privacy and that everything you tweet will be for public consumption, your experience and how you use it will begin to take new form.

This is week three in the Live Twitter Study I am conducting to explore the practical uses for twitter in the scope of social work practice and policy. On Sunday, we will be discussing how to use twitter to community organize and identify non-social work allies, as well as discussing why creating non-social work allies are important to promoting social work policy and practice.

Also, I am asking participants to be prepared to share @organizations and/or any hashtags for the purpose of creating a twitter list of allies and possible collaborators for everyone to have access.  Also, we will be discussing twitter reach and what it means in terms of disseminating an awareness campaign, action alerts, important resources, or urgent information as a prelude to understanding potential reach.

Join us on March 30th at 3PM EST to discuss using twitter for community organizing and creating allies using the hashtag #swhelper. Be ready to @ your favorite nonprofits and organizations to share because you believe they should be natural allies to the social work profession.

Also View:

Beth Kanter’s Community Organizing Twitter Rules

Evidence Based #SWHelper Live Twitter Chats: Open Forum Wrap Up

Yesterday, Social Work Helper held its first inaugural live twitter chat after a long hiatus, and the first chat was used as an open forum/town hall with members of the social work community both domestically and abroad to discuss twitter uses in academia and practice.

The purpose was to identify topics and issues that resonate with students, practitioners, and academics in order to micro target future chats. Additionally, it occurred to me the best way to challenge existing norms of social media use within the profession is to prove Twitter’s practical applications for data collection, resource identification, evaluation, community organizing, live event engagement, and advocacy.

There was no surprise when familiar themes emerged such as lack of branding for the profession, lack of technology core competencies being taught in social work education, ethical use of social media, and using social media in the professional space. Social Work Academia and leaders within the profession are still asking the question of whether to use social media platforms instead of how do we teach ethical use of social media and leverage them to extract data for future implications.

With the data collected from Sunday’s chat and future chats over the next six weeks, I will use this data to create a study for publication to challenge existing perceptions in the field of social work on the practical applications of twitter as a resource tool. The post for next week’s chat is soon to follow, and you can view the full archive of the chat at here:

#SWHelper Live Twitter Chats are held on Sundays at 3PM EST, and here are the week’s best tweets!


Desired Goals and Outcomes

Challenges and Barriers


What are you doing for Social Work Month: #SWHelper Live Twitter Chats Are Back

Social Work Month is a time of reflection when those in our profession intensify our efforts to positively influence change and policy shifts on the macro, mezzo and micro levels to improve outcomes for those we serve. We also reflect on how we can better create awareness and educate the public on the many facets of social work practice and education. Most importantly, it’s the time of year we become more connected together and supportive of each other for choosing a profession to serve the vulnerable, the poor, and marginalized. As a result, Social Work Helper has decided to reboot the #SWHelper Live Twitter Chats on Sundays at 3PM EST to help maintain that connectivity throughout the year.

swmlogotaglineWith any profession, we have our in fights of macro vs micro or whether licensing is better for professionalization. However, having these debates are healthy because they help to identify areas for improvement as well as identify areas working well for replication. Live Twitter Chats are just one way to help increase social work visibility in the virtual world. Whether its writing for Social Work Helper or another publication, any time a social worker weighs in on a current event or news related incident using a social work lens, it helps to add our profession to the national conversation.

The virtual world is providing social workers around the globe the opportunity to connect despite their geographically location. Live Twitter Chats allows us to remove those geographically boundaries like never before by extending the classroom, our ability to learn, and share information and resources. One of the barriers to live twitter chats is that people don’t understand twitter. Twitter seems vast with too much information and very few rules to follow.

However, these barriers are also what make Twitter the best social media platform for connection, advocacy, community organizing , and teaching. However, in order for us to extract the best uses of this social media platform, we must start with providing information to everyone on how to participate in Twitter Chats and Twitter basics.

#SWHelper Live Twitter Chats

To kick off Social Work Month, this Sunday on March 9th at 3PM EST using the hashtag #SWHelper, our first chat will cover how to use twitter, participation in chats, get feedback for topics in the weeks to come, and talk about how to increase social work’s visibility year-long. Social Work Helper has created a page on how to participate in a twitter chat.

How does a live twitter chat work? In order to participate, you must first have access to a twitter account. Then, you will need to go to your twitter search and type in #swhelper.  Depending on the number of participants, the tweet stream may flow quickly.

To contribute to the discussion, you will need #SWHelper  at the beginning or at the end of each tweet. To direct a question to and/or include the moderator in the post, your tweet will need to include @swhelpercom  and #SWHelper.  Also, Social Work Helper has a twitter chat channel in which I highly recommend because it will automatically add the #SWHelper hashtag into your tweet for you. View the Social Work Helper Twitter Channel located at To begin using twubs, simply create an account or login in with your existing twitter account. Read More

Twitter Basics has one of the easiest and most basic guides for New Twitter users.

If you’re still apprehensive whether the micro-blogging universe is really for you, perhaps you’re just experiencing stranger anxiety.

Twitter can be a pretty intimidating platform at first glance, what with all the jargon and quirky characters everyone uses (not to mention the pressure to have a throng of followers!). The anxiety is normal and most newbies find themselves stumped over what to do next after they create their Twitter account.

But, fear not! For a smooth start, you only need to get a handle of the basic principles of Twitter use — and, fortunately, it’s not rocket science.

Here are the 10 basic guidelines for Twitter Beginners. Read Full Article

Also, University of Alabama at Birmingham Social Work Professor, Laurel Hitchcock wrote an excellent post entitled How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Twitter Parts I and II.

Collaborative Twitter Chat

Also, Social Work Helper has joined a collaborative effort Live Twitter Chat which will occur on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month at 9PM EST starting March 13th on the Rothman Report using the hashtag #macrosw. This collaboration includes the University of Buffalo, Network of Social Work Managers, Association of Community Organizers and Social Administration (ACOSA), University of Southern California, and Karen Zgoda.

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