Twitter for activists: How to achieve a successful social networks campaign

[Note: Some documents linked from this one are not translated into English yet (marked as Spanish only). If you feel like doing so, please get in touch with us at]

We present you a manual for twitter campaigns made by a comrade from DRY Madrid (Real Democracy Now Madrid). Following his instructions it’s possible to reach the necessary coordination in order to rise a hashtag to Trending Topic in this social network:



A1) Networked spreading of information

  • blog is a series of websites where different collectives gather the most relevant articles to show to the world, as editorials, opinions, campaigns, statements, etc.
  • Facebook fanpage is a “Facebook page” where each group publishes the news that seem relevant to them, linking to their blog or other sources as well as graphical materials.
  • Facebook event is a page linked to the fanpage where an specific action is described, with its objectives, places, dates and where you can invite Facebook’s friends, which creates a viral effect to motivate assistance.

A2) Twitter

  • Twitter is a tool for groups to publish their breaking news and to participate in massive-spreading campaigns, through the twit composing (short messages with a 140 characters limit).
  • Hashtag or HT is a set of words (in “camelcase”: no spaces, no marks, only letters and numbers) that identify a debate in twitter, in our case, a campaign as it could be #SaveSkouries, #FrackOff, #StopFascism or #TwitterIsBlockedInTurkey.
  • Trending Topic or TT is an HT that at a certain point becomes part of the 10 most spoken topics in Twitter. This is our objective during a campaign, because when it appears in the Top 10 list, many more people will get informed and will join the campaign even if they’re not following our accounts. This avoids the endogamy and closed circles of information.
  • Direct Message or DM is a kind of private messages that Twitter allows you to send to your followers and friends.

A3) Twitter’s algorithm

Twitter uses its own algorithm to determinate when a HT (or sentence) becomes TT (Trending Topic). It changes from time to time to adapt to the users and avoid hacks. Nobody knows its details, but we know some facts:

  • The more different accounts use the HT, the better.
  • The more followers have these accounts, the better.
  • Not only original twits are taken in account, but also the retweets (or RT).
  • The twits with links and/or pictures are better considered
  • If the HT was widely used in the past, it’s more difficult to make it TT again.
  • It doesn’t matter that an HT was used by 2 or 3 accounts, in 10 or 20 tweets before the time for the campaign, this doesn’t have any impact in the algorithm. We insist that what matters is that the HT had already wide usage, because then it will need huge effort to get it as TT (even that there are cases that it comes back as TT, cases as #Syria, #Putin, etc.)

A4) Reference; Learn more



B1) Essentials (5 days before)

  • Get a text ready describing the campaign’s objective, the social and political context, and the actions details (place, date, hour, nature) in case there are actions or in case it is interesting to spread them 
  • Get a date ready or discuss it collectively to the launch of the campaign, at least 4 or 5 days before, if there is not urgency.

B2) Needs (5 days before)

  • Write a SUMMARY of the campaign, one or two sentences.
  • Have a BLOG to upload the text in a new post.
  • If the campaign is for an action in the future, create an EVENT on Facebook to upload the text and the action.
  • Get GRAFICAL materials (photos, videos, posters) ready. 
  • Pick press LINKS up, if possible from related media and other blogs.
  • Have individual and collective CONTACTS in social media (mails, twitter accounts, facebook accounts).



C1) The Hashtag (4 days before)

The first step is creating a working draft titanpad and communicate its web adress to the team members. 

On the second step, collaborators should write a series of Hashtags, and each one has to vote her/his favourite ones by writing +1 or -1 ahead

  • Example:
  • #WhateverWeSay +1+1+1-1
  • #WhateverNO +1+1
  • #STOPWhatever +1+1+1
  • The most effective Hashtags:
  • Have from 2 to 4 WORDS
  • They can be included INSIDE OF A SENTENCE.

Is specially negative to use ‘telegraphical’ HT which don’t respect grammar laws. Don’t use marks (accents or other diacritical marks are not considered as difference marks).

  • Examples:
  • #TroikaGoHome – Perfect, surely will reach TT
  • #WeWantTheTroikaToGoOutOfOurCountriesRightNow – Long as hell, horrible
  • #TroikaHome – Telegraphical, horrible
  • #MerkelShit – Incomprehensible, horrible

C2) The firsts tweets (3 days before)

The working group can write in the pad a set of examples of tweets, from 10 to 20 (no need for more) that after could be used by other people. 

The tweets must: 

  • Include the HT.
  • They have to be FOUCUSSED ON THE ISSUE of the campaign.
  • Some can be SLOGANS, other EXPLANATORY sentences.
  • Choose key sentences of the text on VARIOUS topics.
  • Must be twits that describe the EVENT or ACTION (place, date, hour).
  • ALL tweets must include LINKS to BLOGS, FACEBOOK EVENTS or OTHER NEWS
  • Some have to go with IMAGES or VIDEOS.



D1) Objetive:

  • This pad will be the one which is going to be spread through social networks and has all the necessary details to the campaign carry out. It must be spreaded and communicated by private messages, around 2 or 1 days before the campaign. If it’s done around 2 days before, it allow the ones aware to write more example tweets.
  • It is better to name it with the campaign HT; for it, it is enough to write in the internet browser so it will be created with that name.

D2) Format:

We reproduce below an example of a pad for a twitter campaign:


                                    THIS IS A WORKING SHEET





  • The [DD]th of [MM] we fire the hashtag #ht at [hh:mm] (NOT BEFORE!!!)    
  • If you reached this document, you’re welcome to participate 😉
  • At the end of this document, you’ll find example tweets to schedule, or to copy & paste


  • Day[DD/MM]
  • Hour[hh:mm] [GMT +1] (better a 24 hours clock, for international campaigns please indicate the time zone)
  • HT: [#ht]
  • Proposal by[List of collectives that made the campaign’s proposal]


[The consensus objective of the campaign.]


The [date] at [hour] we launch [#HT][ht] to support [whatever]. Don’t spread this message through public networks, but do so on private. Thanks!


[List of accoounts to send as priority first the DM]


[List of twits to copy and paste or schedule]


  • [Links to blogs, facebook accounts or twitter accounts]
  • [Links to Facebook events]
  • [Links to posters, flyers, manuals]
  • [Links to images and videos]
  • [Links to related media]
  • [Links to press news or other media]


D3) inform about the campaign (at least one day before)

This is the most important part of the campaign, if the information to collectives and key people is not correctly sent, it has few possibilities to get ahead. There’s no need to send a message to ALL of the groups that you’re in touch, but to the key ones that will then inform the others.

  • Send by email or facebook message a summary of the campaign and link to the pad.
  • Send through direct messages in twitter, telegram, line or whatsappp groups the Direct Message.
  • Send as well to all the members of your collective through the internal communication tools that you use.

D4) The pad of pads (at least one day before)

  • Some collectives that usually launch twitter campaigs are coordinated among themselves by creating a daily pad in which all the campaign pads for the day are included. This pads are not usually public because they contain hashtags that should not be twitted before the hour the campaign to avoid making difficult to reach the Trending Topic.
  • Soon after you start sending the direct messages to announce your campaign, someone will get in touch with you to invite you to participate in some of these pad networks 😉

D5) Schedule the campaign

There are some sites and tools to schedule one or various campaigns so you don’t have to do it directly or in situ in front of your own computer. It can be done even 5 minutes before the campaign starts. In this document we are not going deeper into this, check this link (Spanish only) if you want to learn how to do it. It is ESSENTIAL that in each collective there is one person who knows how to schedule. This person must be informed of the campaign.


E) Outcome

E1) During the campaign

  • Use tools for Twitter as TweetdeckTwitterFall or Topsy to follow and monitor the campaign’s outcome and statistics.
  • Make sure that the scheduled tweets are being fired.
  • Do not answer back to trolls, but do to real accounts that ask for more details.
  • (Only in Spain, find your own in your contry) Follow accounts like @trendinaliaES or @TrendsmapEspana to RT them when they notify about your HT as HT.
  • Exchange conversations via DM with other accounts for updated strategies.
  • Be constant, do not rush if you see you’re not reaching TT.

E2) After the campaign

It is important to do an analysis of the campaign and self-criticism, even document it in your own pad. You can evaluate it through this questions:

  • Did you reach TT? When? How much time did it take? Where (cities and countries)?
  • Which Twitter accounts that participated had the most relevant contribution?
  • Did you achieve to get blog followers, likes in Facebook, people that joined the events?
  • Which tweets were most RT? By Who? Which ones failed?
  • Was there any mention in the media? And in the alternative or related media?


2 pensamientos en “Twitter for activists: How to achieve a successful social networks campaign

  1. Pingback: Twitter para activistas: Cómo conseguir una buena campaña en redes sociales | Talleres de Ciberactivismo

  2. Pingback: Twitter per attivisti: istruzioni per una campagna vincente | Partito Pirata Italiano Ferrara


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