The Five People You Meet on Twitter (#3)

Other people in my li’l Twitter taxonomy began with The Celebrity

The Crusader 

They spring up from the political spectrum’s left, right and middle, chomping at the bit to promote their respective messages.* Go green! Shut down the McDonalds! Stop Sascha Baron Cohen’s bizarre brand of humor!  

When Crusaders are good at what they do, they can advance their case with dignity. When they’re ham-fisted and rant-cid or get spammy or pugilistic with their tweets, they fall… flat.  And by that I mean they only really ever succeed at reaching the proverbial choir and supplying, to the rest of Twitterville, nothing but a steady stream of stridency.

The best of the lot know that to pitch their platform, they have to mind their manners just like the rest of us and share something more than a 140-character plea or rant with regularity. I’ll show you two examples in a sec.

Subcategories: charities, supporters of specific parties/candidates

Word to the Wise: In my experience, Crusaders have the easiest time keeping a favorable image if they are willing to dialogue with the converted and non-believers alike. That can be tricky on Twitter, but creating a hashtag and dedicating a specific time weekly to chat up the cause is a good place to start.

The best individual Crusaders are those who blur the line with another group in my Twitter taxonomy, the Real Deals. Take, for instance, Rob Smart (@jambutter).  He’s created the new sustainability-themed #profood hashtag (explanation on his blog). He’s thoughtful, respectable in his tweets and is willing to “agree to disagree” gracefully. But don’t try to bully him, either–he will push back. In short, he’s an honest broker and he advances his cause because of it.

If you’ve got some money to spend on your message, then groovy graphics, contests and giveaways can be useful to raise awareness. Just like with traditional fundraising letters, connecting your cause to the lives of real people can lend a compelling human touch on Twitter. Along these lines is another good role model from the charity subcategory: the Livestrong Foundation (@Livestrong) which has been known to tweet messages of goodwill and support to individual cancer survivors. Earlier this week they introduce a great little yellow Livestrong bracelet that you can superimpose over your Twitter avatar.** 

Those are some do’s.

Now for the don’ts.

Don’t call people that believe differently than you stupid or any synonym thereof. D’oh!  You can, of course, question the rationality of your opposition’s argument. And you can point out when someone’s arguing for argument’s sake (a quick glance at their feed will offer a good clue if your hunch is right) and then politely disengage.

Don’t forget that your potential supporters may be on Twitter after work and at weekends. If you’re tweeting on the clock, then this is an instance when something like Tweetlater might be worthwhile.

• Don’t try to route your followers daily to your other online resources (blog, website, Facebook) unless you’re freshening the content regularly. Your profile should be enough bait.

Know a great Crusader on Twitter? Do tell!

Next in the series: The Bore


*Disclosure:  Yours truly started out on Twitter.com to promote my bipartisan, pro-victory garden themed blog, hence the patriotic moniker (@redwhiteandgrew). I’ve evolved with how I use my account a bit, but I still choose to follow a diverse array of opinionated people because I find it interesting and, yes, inspiring. 

**The avatar gimmick is effective now. I do wonder that if everyone jumps on the bandwagon with this kind of freebie that it might become overdone.

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