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NRL News
Page 10
February/March 2010
Volume 37
Issue 2-3

What Is This “Twitter” You Speak Of?

BY Jonathan Rogers

The pro-life movement has always excelled at seizing any opportunity to help us in our work of organizing more effectively and educating the public at large on the life issues. Over the last year, the rise of Twitter in mass media and political activism has opened a powerful, virtually cost-free new medium for us to take advantage of. NRLC, for example, tweets at http://twitter.com/nrlc

Twitter, first founded in 2006, exploded in popularity in 2009. Since then mention of it in news stories seems almost ubiquitous, everything from Scott Brown’s victorious Senate campaign in Massachusetts, domestic unrest and protests in Iran, to the death of Michael Jackson. Yet with newscasters, bloggers, and techno-geeks abuzz (a-twitter, perhaps?), big questions remain for the average laymen.

Most importantly, what is it?

Contrary to what its countless millions of devoted users believe, other millions of people more get along fine without Twitter. Take an informal poll among your friends and relatives, and you’ll probably receive responses ranging from “absolutely love,” to “don’t care,” to “don’t understand,” to “never heard of it.”

That said, along with Facebook, Twitter is an informational goldmine with incredible networking potential. It is one of those tools which allow underfunded pro-life groups to compete with pro-abortionists, flush with money. Twitter has found widespread acceptance among politicians, activists, media outlets, and anyone trying to push their message to the general public. Increasingly, pro-lifers are creatively using Twitter in ways we will explore below.

So What Is Twitter?

In a nutshell, Twitter is a free web site where users create a simple profile and post short messages (“tweets”) of 140 characters or less. Users “follow” each other to view each other’s tweets. The tweets of users that you follow appear on your main page, and vice versa.

The real virtue of Twitter is how the technology is used. When its usage is properly understood and harnessed, Twitter can be a powerful information-sharing tool as well as a wonderful way to recruit new pro-lifers.

For example, Twitter can easily be accessed via a mobile phone with a basic text messaging plan (standard text messaging fees usually apply). As a result, a user can see—anytime and anywhere—what the people they are following are talking about. It could be information as trivial as a friend’s tweet about a trip to the dentist, or as important as a breaking news headline or a vote.

I use Twitter to follow other NRLC employees, state pro-life groups and chapters, and major news outlets. Taking the bus into work every morning, I view what people are tweeting on my mobile phone , so that by the time I arrive, I already have a rough idea of the day’s major news stories. Twitter’s first big utility is as a source of instant news gathering in this passive sense.

But there are far more important uses of Twitter for pro-lifers. Twitter can act as free advertising for a pro-life chapter or as an organizing/educational tool. If your chapter is putting on an event, tweet about it to remind your followers. (For example, “Stop by Collin County RTL’s table at the County Fair next Friday in the main pavilion. Sign up for our raffle, see our signature ad project.”)

You can also repeatedly update Twitter to keep followers informed of changing information as it happens. (“Just confirmed our speaker for the annual banquet. Remember to RSVP quickly, only fifteen tickets left.”)

If your chapter has any other web-based projects, you can send a tweet with a URL link in it to let people know that you’ve uploaded new material. (“State affiliate press release on recent legislative vote, read it here…”)

Twitter is also extremely useful as an almost instantaneous phone tree. If there’s an important vote pending, you can tweet about it in addition to calling and e-mailing your list of pro-lifers. (“Re-tweet this: Congress about to vote on critical issue, go to www.nrlactioncenter.com to send a message to your representative.”)

These are just a few suggestions for using Twitter to advance our Movement. If you start a Twitter account, be sure to use it as cautiously and as accurately as you would any other media or web-based information outlet.

Be sure to follow us at http://twitter.com/nrlc