Using Twitter to Support Social Causes

Using Twitter to Support Social Causes - #TwitterSmarter community chat - June 4, 2020

Some things never get old. Like social issues on Twitter. With all the panic and hate going on across the world right now, it’s impossible for us to ignore the social movements that have take on our media and our streets. But how do you navigate that as a business? We called a community chat this week to discuss this exactly.

Here’s a summary of the chat.

Topic: Using Twitter to Support Social Causes
Guest: Y’all!
Format: Eight questions, and everyone’s welcome to share their opinions.

Q1: Do you support any social causes on Twitter?

Almost all of our chatters support at least one cause, the most common and recent being the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements.

Gretchen pointed out the importance of awareness in another great cause—food security. Though we don’t often recognize it enough, many people in the world suffer from not having enough, while half the world can afford to splurge on and even waste food.

Aditi shared another one of her favorite causes, #SCCountmeIn. As she said, it’s an effort to include the often neglected and forgotten communities in Columbia South Carolina in this year’s census. Noble cause, indeed.

Q2: If a social issue is trending, should you jump in even if it doesn’t relate to your business?

As Zen suggested, it’s a good idea to jump into a trend only if it resonates with your brand. And you are your brand. If you feel strongly about a cause and consider it part of your identity, then by all means, show your support.

That said, it’s also good to remember that promoting a social cause can be draining as well. It takes a lot of effort, dedication, and most importantly, consistent support for the cause. Think through. Like Joana said, you might be better off focusing on two or three causes you care most about instead of spreading yourself thin over too many.

Q3: Should you incorporate social issues into your Twitter strategy?

Take a minute to consider your stance on certain social causes. If you realize that you care enough to talk about those causes on your social media channels, then you should certainly include them when you create your strategy.

As Janet from #AfricaTweetChat rightly said, including social causes in your regular posts, is a way to humanize your brand. When your audience realizes that you care about the same things they do, they’ll feel more inclined to follow you.

Mike gave us a reality check, however. Though it’s a great idea to include social causes in your strategy, you should also think about the flip side of it. Does your audience care about the cause you care about? Do they want to hear you share your opinions about that cause? Unless they’re invested in it as much as you are, it isn’t helpful to make social causes a regular part of your strategy.

Madalyn made a similar point. She told us how her profile is mostly about Twitter marketing and tips and social causes may not always get a lot of traction amongst her audience. However, since it’s her personal brand, she’s still comfortable discussing social issues occasionally. It’s just not a standard part of her content.

Q4: How can you support an issue that’s not directly related to your business?

One of the best ways to support a social cause, is to give them the spotlight. Like John suggested, you can retweet others’ posts, engage and like their content. That way, you help the cause reach more people even if your business isn’t directly involved. You can even think about donating to causes you support.

Another idea, as Kim said, is to rally (figuratively) with your community. Find out causes that matter to your audience and see how you can support them. That way, you’ll have strong support when you discuss those issues.

Q5: What consequences should you be prepared for when voicing support for social issues?

Always be prepared for backlash. As our friend from Draseum mentioned, sometimes your audience may not agree with you on your causes. They might choose to blatantly oppose you on Twitter and even to unfollow you. Before you send out your support tweet, take a moment to consider your tone and messaging. If it’ll help, put off tweeting until trending situations have settled and are calmer.

As Chris warned, if your message has any negative connotations, or if your audience is offended, you might have a hard time dealing with your community.

And if course, Lance reminded us that there’s always someone out there trying to make politics out of pudding. Just be wary.

Q6: Is it possible to support a cause without it turning into a political debate?

It is, but it’s tough. Every time you tweet in support of a cause you care about, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, opening up avenues of hate speech and negative comments. With Twitter’s notorious record of politicizing social matters, you have to be careful of what you say and how.

As Avery pointed out, review your tweets before you send them out. Think about them from your audience’s perspective to reduce as much friction as possible.

However, the outcome of your tweets often also depend on the cause itself. For instance, like Laura suggested, if you’re talking about voting rights, chances are you are grazing the political space. But instead of asserting who and how to vote, perhaps you could phrase your tweet to promote the idea of voting as a basic national duty.

Q7: How do you choose which causes to support publicly?

The most important criteria, is that it feels right to support that cause. As Jim said, find out if it resonates personally with who you are, and if it does, go for it.

Daniel echoed the same point. When you choose a cause, think about if and how your values and beliefs align with the cause’s. And most importantly, when you vouch for a cause, you’re doing so as an individual social handle. That’s why it’s easier to include social causes in your personal brand, rather than a business handle you manage but don’t own.

Q8: What do you do if your audience/community doesn’t believe in the same causes as you?

There’re a few ways to deal with such a situation. Firstly, you can try and not be as public about your support. For example, instead of tweeting how much you care for a cause, you can donate. Or volunteer. Or retweet their posts. Or help out their supporters and volunteers in any way you can. That said, as Jake mentioned, you can also think about finding the right audience—one that cares about the same causes as you.

Sarah said the same thing. She told us it’s ok to build a new community around your cause, if it matters so much to you. That might even mean creating a new account and starting from scratch. But remember, you can only go through with this process successfully, if you care so much that you’re willing to spend the time and effort building a supportive audience.

Well, folks. That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insights from our community chat take a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together. If you’ve got some time to spare this week, join us on Thursday at 1pm ET for our next #TwitterSmarter chat.

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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