Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Winning with Twitter in 2012 panel (or #TwitterDC) just a few blocks from the Beekeeper Hive.  Even though Twitter feels like a very familiar platform to me, I found the panel to be interesting and informative, and I learned a few new things along the way.  For example, did you know that the Twitter icon is named Larry Bird?!

In all seriousness, the #TwitterDC presentation provided many substantive takeaways, especially for those of us in the public affairs and advocacy space:

Dual platform consumption: One trend emphasized during the event was dual platform consumption, where an individual is taking part in two forms of media simultaneously (i.e. watching a political debate on TV while live tweeting responses).  According to Twitter’s Mindy Finn, the spread of dual platform consumption signals a need to think about ways advocacy groups can integrate television, the most widely consumed media, with Twitter, which is primarily an interest network.

Prioritize mobile: The folks from Twitter also discussed some interesting data relevant to the public affairs space.  For example, 55% of active mobile users utilize Twitter, while 16% of new Twitter users start on a mobile device.  This highlights the importance of sharing mobile-friendly media on Twitter, as well as the need for an easy-to-use mobile site for your advocacy campaign.

Keep it fun and engaging: During the panel presentation, digital strategists from AARP, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the US Travel Association shared best practices for crafting highly engaging tweets.  They agreed that common factors of the most engaging tweets include links, hash tags, and direct calls to action.  Tammy Gordon of AARP also used her organization’s Happy Birthday Betty Twitter campaign – featuring cultural icon Betty White – as an example of using something fun to bring awareness to an issue.

All politics is local: Some of the panelists also noted the importance of localized Twitter campaigns.  For example, the AARP’s state offices use their own Twitter accounts to engage and mobilize activists at the local level, which can be more effective than broad, nation-wide campaigns.

Followers as activists: Towards the end of the event, an audience member asked how advocacy groups can turn Twitter followers into activists.  In my opinion, the best answer came from Nick Schaper of the Chamber of Commerce: