Three Movements That Are Redefining Twitter—And The World

From flash mobs to the Arabs spring, to #OccupyWall Street, using Twitter to promote and organize social and political movements has begun changing the world we all live in.

In fact, Twitter has the power to let any one person anywhere in the world help people everywhere.

But is there a way to make it easier for one person to reach people? And can Twitter overcome it’s spam and hijacked account problems? I think the answer to both questions is”Yes!”

But first, let’s take a look at how Twitter has begun changing the world…by changing us:

1. Social And Political Movements

Yes, Twitter Has The Power To Change People Into Real-Word Activists

Some, such as writer Malcolm Gladwell, have argued that social networks have done nothing to tap into our collective psyche to change a person’s real-world behavior. They have said social networks are only used for organizing people who are already willing to be active.

There are several reasons this is wrong. Here’s my proof that Twitter has developed the power to fundamentally change and connect people in real-world ways.

The first step is becoming aware of events before we can participate in them. No controversy here: Twitter’s power to develop and share event information widely is recognized as unparalleled.

Media Power

Much of the information that starts flowing on Twitter turns into mainstream news later. In fact, a lot of mainstream outlets simply filter and repeat what they are seeing on Twitter.

Of course, new information coming from strangers has rarely been a way to motivate real-world action from people before.

That means the next hurdle is: can Twitter get us to want to connect with people we don’t already know? To seek out and welcome strangers?

People Use Twitter To Connect With People They Don’t Know.

This is a big barrier. As many folks say,

“Whenever a stranger tries to be my friend [on Facebook] I would immediately become guarded and skeptically investigate them.”

But Twitter doesn’t work this way for many of us.

“Just yesterday I had two people I didn’t know start following me on Twitter and I immediately investigated my new followers with a sense of excited curiosity. That has never happened on Facebook.”

Hence, many people have actually learned to seek out and welcome strangers on Twitter…but not on Facebook or anywhere else. As the article ” Twitter, The Social Bridge” points out:

“Twitter has managed to seamlessly bridge the two types of social networks that I assumed were always disparate, (1) personal networks where you connect with people who you already know and (2) interest driven networks where you connect with strangers.”

Or, as one of the most popular Tweets says:

“Facebook is where you lie to your friends. Twitter is where you’re honest with strangers.”

But will we act together with others that (1) we don’t know in ways (2) we haven’t before?

Our Desire To Connect Already Exists

First, the willingness to do something because other people around you are doing it as a group, even if you are unclear on what or why it is being done, has always existed.

This motive is so strong in people that they will even do things that are very questionable when caught up in a group taking action. This is sometimes known as the “mob mentality.”

So people who are NOT activists will get involved in something, even if they have never been involved before.

The question is, has Twitter been able to tap into that desire we all posses to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and cause us to take real-world action? Yes it has, and there is one simple proof for this: flash mobs.

Flash Mobs

At first, people began to be willing to join entertainment event flash mobs. Then they started expanding the kind of events they were willing to participate in.

Of course, this means in many cases people are accepting advice from people they’ve never met or interacted with to “show up at this time for an event.” Sometimes bizarre events, like everyone showing up at a birthday party. We’ve all seen examples such as

“Teen’s Facebook Party Cancelled As 200 Thousand Feared To Show Up”

Most of those people did not know the person whose birthday it was. So we are feeling our connection with one another over Twitter and social media.

Yes, Twitter Does Have The Power To Change Us, And The World

In summary, Twitter:

  1. Focuses us and engages us in event information
  2. Helps us want to connect with strangers
  3. Taps into our desire to be part of something bigger
  4. Gives us exact directions on where to go and what to do that we want to listen to

I predict political and social movements are going to be using Twitter much, more than ever before. In fact, I think Twitter is the future of politics. People have shown they want to be involved. Look for more and more real world involvement to start on Twitter. I think the world is going to be changing more and more rapidly, thanks to the power of people,  and the power of Twitter.

And new tools are making it easier for one person to reach others

2. Optimized Scheduling

Thousands Of People Might Retweet Your Tweet

One of the attractions of Twitter is that everyone can be a star.

Appreciation of praise or recognition is built into us, in fact physiologically it’s been compared to an addiction. People love to be acknowledged.

Getting a response to something we tweet can be addictive. Twitter can be addictive.

And once people start responding to us, we start trying to figure out how to get more people to respond, more often.

Enter The Optimizers

They do two things well: They make sharing and reaching more people simple and powerful.

The leader in this new category of service is the free service BufferApp (paid options also available). Very simple, very powerful.

BufferApp simply adds a button (the “buffer button”) to and and all the places you already like to share things from, such as from your browser, your favorite app, Twitter.com, Google Reader and more places all the time.

When you have something to share, you just click the Buffer button. It automatically writes a tweet you can then edit, and with a click schedules it to be sent when the most people are likely to respond.

200% More Clicks And Retweets Of Your Tweet

A survey showed new users of BufferApp receiving 200% more clicks and retweets on the things they were sharing. Plus, Buffer give you analytics on all your tweets.

And there are many alternative uses of BufferApp.

One thing I like to do is set up Buffer to send a tweet every few minutes in the morning when I get up. Then I simply buffer every reply I’ve received overnight, and go into my Buffer dashboard to edit all my replies. I can even drag and drop to have more urgent replies go out faster, or immediately if I so choose.

Get More For Free

And when you try Buffer, be sure to recommend it to your friends! Everyone who signs up from a recommendation gets a larger number of tweets they can add to their Buffer AND for everyone that signs up, YOU get a larger number of tweets you can add to your Buffer too! So share the love :)

(Once you’ve signed up for BufferApp, go here to refer people.)

Finding The Best Time To Tweet Apps

Many apps have begun integrating Buffer (their API is being tested, and Facebook integration is coming soon). If you want to customize when your tweets go out, take a look at

Apps that show when your followers are active online include Tweriod, TweetWhenTimelyWhen to Tweet ,and 14 Blocks. (Queued.at is a little different, in that it attempts to automatically schedule your tweets for the most likely best times.)

3. Spam And Hijacked Accounts

Hijacked Accounts Are A Problem Shared By Everyone

You have to rely on the kindness of others to find out you have a problem, because if you’ve been hijacked, other people will usually notice first by receiving your spam tweets.

You often get hijacked by clicking a link that takes you to what looks like a Twitter login page. (This can happen from your computer, too, not just in tweets or direct messages.) You assume you just need to login to Twitter, and fail to notice that although the site looks identical to Twitter.com, it does NOT say “twitter.com” anywhere in the website address/URL. Once you type your password into that page, it is stolen, and the hijackers will usually use your account to send their own spam messages. Sometimes they will also change your password, and you will need to request a password reset.

Often the first messages they send from your account try to hijack other accounts.

Why It’s Hard To Prevent

It’s easy to complain that people who have had their accounts hijacked have made some kind of mistake that we ourselves would not have made.

But hijackers get more clever all the time. They often rely on their messages seeming somehow relevant to something that just happened for a few . So for example if you have recently ordered a package, and you get any e-mail saying there is a problem with your package delivery, you might not realize that it is a spam message.

Also, messages that you might not reply to or be interested in yourself, might be relevant to other users.

For example, it’s fairly common for someone to have a problem with another user being abusive of them on social networks. It’s very frustrating, and many of these abusers will open new accounts, start blogs, or spread their comments and abuse where ever they find opportunity to do so.

So if you have an abuser, and a friend of yours sends you a private direct message saying “did you see this bad blog about you?” you might think it’s another attack from the abuser, and click the link.

Also, some homes have children who might open your account, see “did you see these photos of you?” (or something similar) and click the link, then leave the computer at fake login page. You come home, login without checking the page, and bingo! You’re been hijacked. There are many, many scenarios, and you only need to make one mistake to be hijacked.

What Twitter Does

Twitter does block bad links as soon as they become aware of them. But then spammers just change the link

Twitter could block messages that contain bad links from being sent, but preventing the links from working prevents people from being hijacked.

What You Can Do

You have to let people know when you suspect they’ve been hijacked. We have to watch out for each other. And if you help someone who doesn’t respond, and you don’t know them personally, unfollow them. People who don’t check their accounts and won’t fix their problems shouldn’t be followed.

The more people help one another instead of judging one another, the harder it is for the spammers, scammers and hijackers to take advantage of Twitter overall. United we stand, divided we fall. The question is, can we save Twitter from ourselves?

What Are Your Thoughts?

Does Twitter have the power to change people…and the world? Are you using an optimizer like BufferApp yet? Do you help others if you see their account has been hijacked? Leave a comment below!

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