Tweeting Independence

In many ways, the Federalist Papers (the set of articles published by Madison, Hamilton and Jay outlining the provisions of the proposed U.S. Constitution) were some of the earliest and most important examples of using media for advocacy. Just imagine if they’d had access to Twitter or Facebook,  Their early posts might have been something like:
 
  • We’ll have 3 branches of govt. (legislative, executive and judicial) that balance each other out. #Constitution (Jefferson might have RT’d with a “Don’t forget a #billofrights” message);or,
  • The legislative branch will have a democratically-elected House and a Senate, with respect for rights of individuals and states. #Constitution; or,
  • We’ll have an appointed-for-life Supreme Court to interpret whether the legislature and executive are sticking to the #Constitution

As the founding fathers might have discovered, social media approaches offer unprecedented opportunities to get a single message out to a large group of people quickly. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. Just ask Anthony Weiner.  Following are two basic ways to be sure you’re using these resources for good, not evil — expressed in the spirit of Facebook’s “thumbs up” approach.

Thumbs Down — Aggrandizing the Trivial: Whether using social media for personal or professional reasons (or both) you’ve got to think about both YOUR return on investment (ROI), as well as the ROI for your audience. And by “investment,” I mean time and attention, not money. I can spend hours wading through “I’m eating a plate of french fries” messages before I hit on something I want, need or am amused to know. Let’s all remember that not every thought that comes into our heads will be interesting to everyone — and edit accordingly. Some messages don’t need to be “one-to-many:” they should be “one-to-few.”  That’s what e-mail, texting and gchat are for.

Thumbs Up — Character Limits: I spend more time writing an interesting Tweet than I spend writing a blog entry (or I spent writing a whole tactic in The Influence Game – see how cleverly I worked that in?). As no doubt everyone interacting with either of these sites know, they force us to focus our message. Maybe I’m old (OK, there’s no maybe about it), but my penchant for words like “penchant” and proper punctuation make the twitter-verse super challenging. But because focusing our message increases our influence, those character limits are all worth it.

And speaking of character limits, maybe a 140 character-count version of the Declaration of Independence would go something like this:

Dudes. The King doesn’t get it. Gov’t should secure our inalienable rights, not take them away. We’re bailing to start our own country #DOI

What do you think? I’d totally retweet that.

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