"Twitter Diplomacy" Provides Workshop on International Relations Through Social Media

Layla El Tannir, for GPA -- Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read tweets, text messages limited to 140 characters. Users can access Twitter through the website interface, SMS, or mobile device app. In the information age, Twitter is the best way to discover new content and keep up with your favorite topics and people of interest. Twitter allows you to exchange ideas and information instantaneously and connects you with people from all around the world. The Global Philadelphia Association and The Consular Corps of Philadelphia both value the social media tool and decided to team up on June 4 to discuss the of Twitter as it pertains to managing international relations in an event they dubbed “Twitter Diplomacy.”

To introduce the event held at the GPA headquarters in the offices of Reed Smith LLP (1717 Arch St.), there was a panel discussion moderated by Rakia Reynolds, President & CEO of Skai Blue Media. The panel consisted of Rolandas Kacinskas, Deputy Chief of Mission from the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania, Dan Pohlig, Vice President, Digital from The Campaign Group, Inc. and Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director of GPA. Each visitor from The Consul Corps was then paired with a member of GPA to help them navigate and better understand how to maximize their presence on Twitter, either personally or diplomatically.

Collectively, the panelists discussed the role Twitter is playing in their daily lives and their strategy for its use depending on their goals. They then answered a few questions from the consuls. Contrary to popular belief, none of the panelists find Twitter to be time consuming, spending about half an hour on it in the morning, either creating a tweet, retweeting or just catching up on the news of the day, and then repeating the same routine in the evening. During the day, if they have a break, they check in briefly to see if there is anything that can be retweeted or helpful in achieving their goals

In order to keep people interested in a Twitter account, they recommended creating original content by re-thinking or re-phrasing news. When it comes to campaigns and international relations discussions, Pohlig feels that Twitter “is an outlet that can be used to campaign without having to rely on the press or their filter.”

Having worked on multiple political campaigns, Pohlig urges the media team to be extremely careful of the content they share, especially photos and video clips that can misrepresent the client. When using Twitter for instantaneous tweeting, he recommended having someone look over what’s written before posting, to be on the safe side. Using tools to schedule and manage tweets is something that all the panelists touched on. Some of the tools mentioned were Buffer, TweetDeck and JustUnfollow.

“Technology has not jeopardized our diplomatic efforts, but rather enhanced them,” said Kacinskas. He believes that the more we immerse ourselves in technology, the more we appreciate the personal relationship building. While it is important to emphasize the value of face-to-face conversations to the future generation, this generation must learn to communicate through technology because this will be their main language. Finding a balance between the two will be challenging as multiple generations work together via multiple platforms to help save the world.

Twitter Terminology

The Twitterverse has its own vocabulary. Familiarizing yourself with the language specific to Twitter will allow you and your team to be fully submerged in the twitter culture.

Tweet: A standard message on Twitter containing 140 characters or less.

Retweet: A tweet that has been re-shared to all of a user’s followers.

Hashtag: The # symbol used to tag keywords or topics in a tweet, allowing it to be easily identifiable in a search.

Mention: Tweets can include replies and mentions of other users by preceding their usernames with the @ symbol.

Handle: This designates a username and accompanying URL (twitter.com/handle).

Feed: The stream of tweets on your Twitter homepage comprised of all the accounts you follow.

Lists: Twitter provides a mechanism to list users you follow into groups or curated lists showing tweets of all the users in the list.

Direct Messages: Also called a “DM,” this represents Twitter’s direct messaging system for private communication amongst users who follow each other.

How To Build The Perfect Tweet

There are three parts to every great tweet: A message of 100 characters, a link occupying 20 characters and a blank space of the remaining 20 characters.

Within the message component, be sure to include a call to action, a quality message, hashtags, mentions and retweets and pay attention to the format and tone of the message. The call to action is telling your readers what you want them to do, placing brackets around the deliverable will drive additional action.

The message itself should be constructed with the use of good punctuation, including capital letters, no text speak and avoiding all caps. Do not abbreviate anything other than numbers. Each message should include one to two hashtags to increase reach among non-followers; the hashtags should be placed in the body of the message and not just used to fill space on the end of the tweet. If there are any mentions or retweets that need to be made, they should be used creatively and with a specific purpose. In terms of formatting, use a mix of headlines, questions and facts and figures to drive clicks and retweets. The tone should be professional but show a little personality to help make it interesting, it is important to find the right style to match the brand’s image.

Providing a link in a tweet will reinforce or elaborate it. Over 90% of your tweets should link to articles, blog posts, pictures or videos that relate to your message. The links can be placed anywhere within the tweet. When adding a link, make sure to shorten the URL so that it eats less into the message of the tweet. Bit.ly links generate the most retweets and can be created through the use of a free tool.

The blank space is useful to retweeters to add content, increasing a chance of a conversation that could lead to potential working relationships. Remember to thank the tweeter for retweeting or paying attention to your content.