This is part five of an ongoing GirlGuidesCANblog series to provide GGC Members, volunteers, and parents with a better understanding of social media issues and best practices.
Part 1: GGC’s online strategy
Part 2: Girl Guides Online…Now and Forever
Part 3: Guiding Principles for Facebook
Part 4: Pictures Say a Thousand Words… and Then Some
Part 5: Girl Guide Tweets and Tweeps
Part 6: Guiding Online Searches
It’s no secret that I adore Twitter. I tweet all day long as the administrator of the Girl Guides of Canada twitter account (and now our newest GirlGuideCookie account), working collaboratively with online Guiders and supporters to share important messages; learn about provincial activities; and help a parent or two with registration questions. While it’s a great place for information sharing, there are some cautions for the new or novice user, because like all online platforms, there are inappropriate tweets (twitter messages), and tweeps (twitter people) just looking to spam you!
Opening a twitter account is very simple, and when you are ready to start tweeting, I always suggest you learn by example. Start following someone you know or an organization you trust (hint, hint). If you are just starting out, feel free to select ‘Keep My Tweets Private’ on your profile settings. This will stop the immediate barrage of followers from inundating you with tweets (most likely trying to sell you something), before you’ve even left the gate. With this privacy setting, anyone wishing to follow you (and hence read your tweets), will have to have your permission to do so. (A small lock icon will appear beside the account name that is protected). If you feel more comfortable as time goes by and would like to grow your following without the need to approve every request, just deselect this option.
According to an ancient social media proverb, ‘The more an online platform is popular, the more spammers lurking there are!’ No surprise. Spammers are all over Twitter and have come up with some very good (evil?) ways to get their information shared by someone as unsuspecting as yourself. Just like email spam, twitter spam can be a hassle as it may be offensive, annoying or down right problematic. Our suggestion? If you see a message with a link from someone you don’t know, before you click on the link, click on the person’s account name (their ‘@name’). Likely, you’ll see a slew of random messages in their timeline to other unsuspecting people. There is no need to click on the link. It is obvious that it can be only bad news.
A hashtag (#) is added to the text of a twitter message in order to put the information in context. For example, for the BC Girl Guides’ Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous camp this year, the hashtag #SOAR2011 was used. This hashtag enabled people to follow the conversations about the camp and to talk about the experience without having to use up what little space a twitter message offers (140 characters) in every message!
Hashtags don’t inherently pose any privacy or safety concerns, but it helps to know what the hashtag is referring to before you share it. This is important because there is no real system in place that oversees hashtags. It’s more like a wild west, gold rush approach. Anyone can use and make up their own. That means, however, that many hashtags are used, sometimes at the same time, but in reference to completely different events or campaigns! Recently, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) decided not to go with the ‘obvious’ #StopTheViolence hashtag to mark its Stop the Violence Campaign, because that hashtag was already in use for other (not great) purposes. WAGGGS opted for #StopCampaign (please share that hashtag!).
Here are a few of the more common hashtags we currently use on our twitter accounts. Feel free to use them too or make up your own!
#GGCNews – news items or achievement from our Members across Canada that appeared in the news
#NSP11 – National Service Project 2011
#GGCCookies – Girl Guide Cookies
#GirlGreatness – any message dealing with empowering girls to be great
#CraftyTuesday – our weekly program-related craft ideas
By Talya, GGC staff
Are we following YOU on twitter? Let us know who you are and we’ll start following immediately!