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10 suggestions for your twitter account from the last Israeli – Palestinian conflict

The recent outbreak of conflict in and around the Gaza Strip has again illustrated the importance of social media in the battle for hearts and minds and in the wider communication actiities of the parties to the conflict. In this case, the use of Twitter by the Israeli Defence Force has attracted much attention.
 
So what are they doing, and, whatever one's views of the rights and wrongs of the conflict, what does it all tell us about how a modern state uses social media in this most extreme of situations?
 
Traditionally different kind of tools, mechanisms and other "useful staff" like the Internet has come to civil life from the military world. And, probably, a lot of things were created for non-peaceful purposes.

Yet, the goal of this blogpost is very peaceful. A short summary (NOTA BENE) has been developed during the Israeli – Palestinian conflict in November 2012. It is about ways how to improve our twitterskills and what we can learn from the techniques used by one of the most capable armies in the world, i.e. Israel.  What were its assets in the twitter account?

Important background:

IDFSpokesperson is an official Twitter account of Israel Defence Forces. On November 16 they welcomed their 60.000nd follower. On December the 1st this account had 209.212 followers. This was the first "twitter translated" operation by IDF.

1. How to introduce new hashtags?

New hashtags were introduced by both using the largest channels, such as #israel or #Gaza more rare #hamas, and   less popular channels (#israelonfire). The main goal is to promote them.

(An example: “Update: 97 rockets fired from Gaza hit #Israel today (388 since Nov. 14), and Iron Dome intercepted 99 rockets #IsraelUnderFire”)

2. Beginning of  message – short, clear, one word announcement or question

To make the reading and life of the reader easier, posts are very "targeted". If there is a link on a photo, "photo" is the first word. Why this is important? Most probably, this is linked to the fact that IDF twitter account is highly visualized (given graphics, photos or videos). From Europarl_XX statistics we can see that people like clicking especially on photos and videos.

3.  Do not respond to negative feedback

The simple rule here is not to respond to negative feedback, including avoiding to use contra propaganda. Instead, the growing number of followers was highlighted. Only few posts were addressed to opponents. This gives the feeling that opponents are reading/following them.

4. Do not hesitate to ask RT

There was no hesitation to ask to retweet (RT). Retweeting was even encouraged.  (An example: We're approaching 60,000 followers. Thanks to all of you who RT our posts. You're helping spread the truth about life under fire in #Israel.)

5.  Retweeting – minimal

IDFSpokesperson did not do retweets. However, with some exceptions, for example, – officials. Why? IDFSpokesperson constructed itself as the prime source or the main player in the media game. (An example: Retweet of Avital Leibovich (@AvitalLeibovich The #IDF sees #Hamas accountable for any terror activity. #Gaza).

6. Use opponents hashtags (channels) or out of contest

Only neutral opponents’ hashtags were used, such as #Gaza and #Hamas. #Hamas was mainly used in the beginning of the conflict, used a lot less in the end. For obvious reasons there is no hashtag #Palestine. Using supra channels illustrate attempts to bring the topic higher on the agenda and attract attention (An example: Good morning to our friends in #America. While you were sleeping, 3 Israelis were killed when a rocket hit their house.)

7. Use of BREAKING (as a word in the beginning of the message) with exception

BREAKING has been used with exception. During the time of war all news are more or less BREAKING. BREAKING was used in the case of a bomb in the bus ("BREAKING: A bus has exploded in Tel Aviv. Possibly due to a bomb or suicide bomber. Many ambulance sirens. Stay tuned for updates.") and in the case of the attack on Tel Aviv (Breaking: A few minutes ago, the Iron Dome intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv. City residents ran for shelter after siren.)

8. #FF

IDF used several linguistic versions and reminded about other sources in different languages (Russian, Spanish, French, etc.). They used a scheme to remind about contacts to follow each two weeks. (#FF Talk to us in any language! Russian: @AnnaUkolova Arabic: @AvichayAdraee French: @SachaDratwa Spanish: @CapitanKaplan)

9. Holidays

IDF reminded of itself also on holidays (Happy #Sukkot. The Iron Dome soldiers are keeping their eyes on the sky and taking care of Israel Home Front. pic.twitter.com/cqeg0skV)

10. Posts on history

Posts on history are not only meant to fill in the gap. It is a part of campaign to remind about attacks and victims. (An example: Today in History (2000): Two IDF reservists were lynched and murdered in Ramallah. We remember. http://ow.ly/eqBxF)

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