by Kate Vandeveld

Have you ever wished that you could engage with global thought leaders and experts, but weren’t sure where to start? You’re in luck – Twitter is here to bridge the gap between amateurs and experts and provide a platform for global discourse.

Twitter is often used as a platform for reactive discourse: Individuals and organizations use it to learn about what’s going on in the world, respond to global events, and share information they find to be of interest. But Twitter can also be used as a proactive platform for engaging and galvanizing audiences to take part in movements that are changing the world.

Here are some of the many ways that Twitter can be used to encourage proactive discourse:

Moderate a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats are a fun and engaging way to foster communication between experts and interested individuals. Twitter chats are live Twitter conversations that are usually centered around a particular topic, and promoted and moderated by an individual or organization. The host selects a (generally short) time period and a hashtag that is relevant to the chosen topic, and then promotes the upcoming chat to their followers. Anyone who wants to participate can do so simply by following and using that hashtag within the specified time period.

Givology, a social enterprise that connects individuals to grassroots education projects and student scholarships around the world, hosts and moderates weekly Twitter chats, called #givchats. Each week, Givology invites one of its partner organizations or another non-profit that they admire to participate in a #givchat. The chat is promoted in advance, so that interested Tweeters can mark their calendars to participate in the live sessions. They also encourage interested parties to submit questions beforehand. Givology acts as a moderator during the live chat, selecting questions and posting them on their own feed throughout the hour-long session, and the participating organization answers questions posed by other Tweeters, providing input on the specified issue.


Host a Global Twitter Conference

These days, many of us are able to use the Internet to engage with others who share our interests without having to actually be in the same place. The Twitter conference takes this concept to the next level, opening the conversation on a given topic to anyone and everyone who is interested in participating. These digital conferences are not just one single Twitter chat, but a series of chats focused on a particular topic that are led by field experts and leaders.

An incredible example is the MDG500 event that took place on August 18th, the 500-day milestone before the target date to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. For this online-based event, the United Nations Development Programme hosted a day-long Twitter conference using the hashtag #MDGMomentum. The day’s schedule was available to the public, so anyone with an Internet connection and Twitter account could take part in conversations of interest to them by following along with the hashtag. UNDP staff joined the conversation from all over the world, hosting and participating in crucial conversations about global issues like maternal health, poverty, and gender equality.


Create a Twitter Party Fundraiser

Twitter allows individuals and organizations to quickly capture the attention of an audience. Because each Tweet is only on a Twitter user’s radar for a limited period of time, each message carries an inherent sense of urgency that is extremely helpful in getting people to take action. It is therefore an ideal platform for promoting fundraisers.

Each year, Campbell's Soup hosts a fundraiser and awareness campaign in conjunction with the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Movement called Address Your Heart with Campbell's. To promote this year's fundraiser, they put together the Address Your Heart Twitter Part, during which time they donated $1 to the AHA for every tweet posted with the hashtag #AYH for an hour on the evening of January 27th. This Twitter party fundraiser both boosted awareness of their brand's affiliation with the AHA and gave people an easy way to contribute to the AHA through Campbell's. For more information about legal considerations in cause marketing, read Kyle-Beth Hilfer's recent post

No matter where you are geographically or what you’re passionate about promoting, you can use Twitter to as a tool for encouraging proactive conversation and engaging other passionate parties.

Have you used Twitter to engage with others in this way? Let us know in the comments below or reach out via Facebook and Twitter.