The Alexander Technique Twitter Project
by Robert Rickover
Flash: Click here for a Twitter Project Update - February, 2010
In the last year or two, Twitter has emerged as the most powerful way to quickly and efficiently share ideas with a wide and diverse audience worldwide. It provides a unique opportunity for Alexander Technique teachers and students to help the Technique gain the recognition it deserves - taking it from a tiny niche in the field of alternative health and bringing it into the mainstream. And this can be accomplished in a matter of months.
All that is needed is a critical mass of teachers and students who are willing to spend a few minutes a week using Twitter in an efficient and effective manner. If this seems a bit far fetched, I urge you to listen to this short interview from Alexander Talk (a longer interview with more detail can be heard here), Twitterville from TV Ontario or watch Social Media Revolution on YouTube.
This page provides all the information you will need to contribute to this project. Please take a look at the material below and then join The Alexander Technique Twitter Project!
Here are the 5 simple steps you can take to make this project succeed:
Step 1 - Go to Twitter and open an account. Twitter makes everything amazingly simple. Spend a little time thinking about your User Name - it has to be very short and most of the obvious Alexander Technique ones are taken. But there are still lots of good possibilities out there. Using your own name, or some version of it, is not a particularly good choice - what you're looking for is a name that relates in some way to the Technique's ideas (BodyLearning, HumanPosture, IntelligentBody are all real examples) and/or the Technique and your location (AlexTechNYC and AlexanderTechniqueCA for example). Be sure to put a link to your website on your Twitter page. You can see examples of recent, and mostly Alexander Technique, tweets here, here and here.
Twitter's own Guide to Getting Started is an excellent resource.
Step 2 - Tweet regularly - at least 2 or 3 times a week, every day if possible. Your tweets should have some relationship to the Alexander Technique: they could be links to Alexander Technique articles or blog posts on the web (there are many thousands out there), links to pages on your own website or blog or quotes by F. M. Alexander or other Alexander Teachers.
Using Keywords in your tweets is an essential part of the Project. The idea here is to have the phrase "Alexander Technique" in your tweet, preferably with another key phrase like "sports performance", "acting", "aging", "John Dewey", "Posh Spice", "backpain", "physical education", "walking on ice", "New York", "London", etc etc. By coupling the Alexander Technique with other subjects, you make it more likely that people looking for those topics will read your tweet and and may decide to become, in Twitter terms, a "follower" of your tweets. Twitter functions, among other things, as a search engine - like Google, but more in the short term. Key words are....well, key.
I've found that once I started tweeting, plenty of topics to tweet came to mind each day - far more than the one a day I was tweeting. I write these ideas down as they come to me and I now have a huge backlog of tweets waiting to be posted and my only decision each morning is which one to use.
If you have any difficulty finding topics, do a Google search for "Alexander Technique and POSSIBLE TOPIC" where the "POSSIBLE TOPIC" is anything for which you think the Technique has some relevance. Almost always you'll find at least one web page you can link to in your tweet. In a pinch, you could always go to Alexander Technique Applications and Personal Accounts and pick one of the links there. Or go to YouTube, search for "Alexander Technique" and when you see a video you like, tweet about that. You could also do a Google Blog search and find plenty of material that way.
Because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, you'll need to be very brief. You will often want to include a web link in your tweet, perhaps to an article or website. The web address of your link may take up quite a few characters, and there are now at least 2 services that will (for free!) provide a shortened version of any web address for you: bit.ly (best in my experience because it tends to produce shorter addresses) and tinyurl.com You'll find that most web links posted on Twitter use one of these two address shortening sites.
Step 3 - Re-tweet. Once you start tweeting, do a search on Twitter for "Alexander Technique". You'll quickly be able to identify fellow twitterers who tweet regularly on the Technique and when you do, click on their page to "follow" them. That means their tweets will appear on you Twitter Home Page (but not your Twitter Profile Page) and very likely they will in turn "follow" you. Once you're following somebody, it's very quick and easy (Twitter shows you exactly how to do it) to "re-tweet" their tweets - to essentially re-send their tweets.
Re-tweeting is another essential key to this project - it is a way to multiply and amplify Alexander Technique tweets by others (who are in turn doing this for your tweets) and with enough Alexander Technique people. and their followers. on Twtter this can have an exponential effect.
Step 4 - If you have a website*, a blog or a Facebook page, put a Twitter feed on those pages so that all your tweets simultaneously appear on those sites too. At the bottom of your Twitter page, there is a link called "Goodies" and there you will find out exactly how to do this. This provides regular update to all your sites and makes it more likely that visitors will return.
To put your Twiter feed on your own website, you'll need to copy and paste some code onto your web page and you may need your web-person to do that for you. It should take about 2 minutes of his/her time. You can see an example of what the result looks like at Alexander Technique Toronto
*It not necessary to have a website in order to contribute to The Alexander Technique Twitter Project, but if you want to reap the full benefits from it in terms of your own teaching practice, it's absolutely essential.
It is very cheap and very easy to get a website and for the past decade this has clearly been the most cost effective way to promote your teaching practice. Learn how here: How to Create, Promote and Host an Alexander Technique Web Site Easily and Quickly with no Technical Knowledge
In the 21st Century, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you need a website. Period. Not having one is now almost the equivalent to not having a phone number.
Step 5 - Tell all the Alexander Technique teachers and students you can think of about this project. If you're on an Alexander training course, get the other trainees - and the Directors! - involved. What's needed to take the Alexander Technique to a new level is a critical mass of people tweeting and re-tweeting about the Alexander Technique, and especially about the Technique and other topics. There is no way to know exactly how many people are required for that critical mass to form, but my preliminary guess would be around 100 people tweeting and re-tweeting regularly. 200-300 people would be absolutely amazing. Remember that each tweet can be repeated many, many times from re-tweeting by other Alexander tweeters and by their followers. Given that there are probably 4-5 thousand Alexander teachers in the world, and many more students, the critical mass should be easy to achieve.
At some point, somebody (it could be you!) will make a the first tweet that is heard, so to speak, throughout the forest. In other words, a tweet that will be re-tweeted so many times that, in web jargon, it goes "viral" and many tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are drawn into the process. This is definitely not a pipe dream: In mid-2009, the British Medical Journal Video about the Alexander Technique and Back Pain went semi-viral with about 25,000 visits over a 3 day period. This was over a year after the study went public. Given the much larger number of people on Twitter today, the possibilities for this kind of thing happening repeatedly and on a much bigger scale are now vastly expanded.
That's it - a simple 5-step process that can revolutionize the Alexander Technique in a very short period of time. But it will only work if enough people take the trouble to contribute. So...get a Twitter account with a nice User Name, and start tweeting and re-tweeting today. And if you don't have a website, get one. Like the internet in general, Twitter is an amazing gift to the Alexander Technique community. Now is the time for us to use it!
Mr. Alexander prepares his morning tweet
Click here to see just what Mr. Alexander would say about The Alexander Technique Twitter Project!
If you'd like to listen to some conversations on Alexander Talk about Alexander Technique teachers and the web, and in particular how to use Twitter, click here. Alexander Audio also has some interesting conversations about using the web here.
You might also want to listen to or read FREE: The Future of a Radical Price which explains why sites like Twitter don't cost anything to use.
The Wikipedia entry on Twitter provides an excellent source of information.
You can see the long-run trend for Alexander Technique web traffic here. The data don't include the past couple of months and the vertical scale refers to percent of overall web traffic. Changes in the short term can be seen individual using site statistics.
Several people have asked questions about The Alexander Technique Twitter Project:
Can I overdo it with all this re-tweeting? Absolutely not! Even if something has been re-tweted by several others, it's still useful to re-tweet it yourself.
Why do I need a website to get the benefits from the Twitter Project? I'm listed on professional society's webpage. You will get some benefit, but most folks on the web find out about Alexander teachers at How Can I Find an Alexander Technique Teacher or Course. Very few people bother to search professional society's websites for a teacher and even when they do, they almost always check out teachers who have their websites listed there.
Do I benefit from re-tweeting someone else's tweets? Yes, both you and the original tweeter benefit - the viewer sees links to both of your Twitter pages.
Should I follow everyone who follows me? Not necessarily, particularly if they are in a completely different field. If an Alexander Technique person follows you, it is polite to follow them.
Does it matter when I re-tweet someone else's tweet? Probably not a lot, but there could be some advantages in re-tweeting older tweets. (In Twitter terms, "older" means more than a couple of days ago!) If you find someone whose tweets you like, go back a few weeks on their Profile page and re-tweet some of their earlier tweets.
If you have other questions, or suggestions for this page - content, wording, whatever - please, please let me know. I can be reached using this Contact Page
We hereby pledge to tweet and re-tweet tweets about Mr. Alexander's Technique (Note the special hand gesture, a subtle varient of forward and up.)
Tweeting in the Old Days with Michael Jackson
Robert Rickover is an Alexander Technique teacher in Lincoln Nebraska and Toronto, Canada . He is the creator of The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique and other Alexander Technique websites.
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