In the recent time, 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, Twitterville from TV Ontario or watch Is social media a fad? 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! Or just take the short cut to the Tweet Factory.
What is twitter?Edit
Essentially, Twitter is this enormous search engine made up of people, instead of search terms. Think of it as a self-selecting group of people who hand you enormously interesting things to read - anytime you want to go web-surfing. Twitter is sort of a targeted web-surfing experience. It's directly dependent on the interests of those whom you choose to "follow" on Twitter.
Twitter is a little like being at a party, where you can nuzzle up to anything interesting that seems to be happening and join in. Whereas, in Facebook you are regarded as somewhat of a lurking stalker if you ask someone to "friend" you whom you don't know.
For anyone who writes, has a business, has a product to sell, who teaches A.T., who keeps a blog (with any sort of measuring of traffic on it,) has a website, it's pretty cool how after tweeting about a new blog post or the location of something interesting on your website - you can see people flocking over from Twitter...
Poof! They're looking at what you've written!
The clue on Twitter is that any particular person who joins is going to bring not only their Alexander friends as "followers." They're also bring over as followers other people who have heard about Alexander Technique and imagine they might want to hear a little more about it. The advantage is it all comes in tiny small bites. Each time someone "ReTweets" (repeating whatever you've said) to their "followers - you can get a message out really, really fast to thousands of people...They don't even have to be your own followers!
When you think about it, (and especially if you're a woman who has been taught that marketing is akin to bragging, which is an Unladylike NoNo) Twitter is one of the places where it's not only appropriate to talk about what you are doing - but people expect it of you.
I predict that the game of our life and favorite livelihoods is about to change really, really fast...
The only challenge is brevity. Is it possible to say ANYTHING about Alexander Technique (without misrepresenting it) in 140 characters? Of course it is.
6 simple steps you can take to make this project succeedEdit
Step 1: Your websiteEdit
A website is not neccessary to contribute to the Alexander Technique Twitter Project, but if you want to reap the benefits for your own teaching practice it is absolutely essential!
So if you don't have a website, get one! It's very cheap and very easy to do and for the past decade has clearly been the most cost effective way to promote your teaching practice. You can learn how to get one 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 rapidly becoming equivalent to not having a phone number. If you have internet at home, your contract might entitle you to host a website. While you're here, you might as well register an account (via Special:UserLogin or the button on top of this page) and start with a Userpage that provides information for potential students.
Step 2: Twitter accountEdit
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 , LearnCreativity , are all real examples.) You can include your location (AlexanderTechNY and AlexTechEdin for example). Be sure to put a link to your website on your Twitter page. Tweets about the AlexTech Wiki can be found with EvolvingMeme.
Step 3: Tweet regularlyEdit
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. The key 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.
Don't worry about repeating tweets - repetition is the key to change, and some students need to hear the same thing a lot of times before they listen :) The Tweet Factory offers you some ready-to-go tweets, separated in different topic for your lazy tweeting.
To mark your tweet as Alexander Technique related you can add the hashtag #AT4U to the message text. This allows anyone to search for AT4U, and if an AT4U tweet should go viral, people interested in AT get presented with a red carpet to all the twittering from this project. This allows to collate 'interesting' articles. links or quotes under a single point of reference. This wiki shows the lastest tweet with the hashtag #AT4U automatically on the start page and here:
Anyone can start a hashtag tweet temporary preservation area merely by using it. Only the first continuous string of characters are hashtagged; thus #Alexander Technique would only show up under #Alexander. Obviously, a shorter hashtag is better because it takes up less real estate, (thus #AT4U. You'll see that #AT was already being used as a collection place for a sports team.) Using additional hashtags in a tweet even more efficient in categorising your message. To do this merely insert a # sign in front of any word. For instance, #health #pain #backpain or a specific field such as: #golf #tennis #acting #dressage etc. Checking out the hashtag word beforehand will tell you what else is being collected there. For instance, it appears that #act has been claimed by activists, #actor has been claimed by someone often tweeting in chinese characters, and #aware is more of a place for general announcements. Please do not start unnecessary hashtags.
Hashtags also make other features possible. Hashtags can be used to organize live chats or live brainstorming sessions that occur at pre-set times that people announce on Twitter. Services have sprung up to accommodate this usage, among them are Tweetgrid and Tweetchat. Making yourself a part of these events result in participants becoming interested in who you are and what you have to say. There are also additional services connected to Twitter.
Hashtag area tweets are not saved forever by Twitter. This is why it's not necessary or productive to start new hashtags using other words. Instead, there's a preservation service for the hashtag #AT4u reserved here: http://twapperkeeper.com/AT4U.
Finding Topics and PeopleEdit
Twellow searches the short biographies people supply on Twitter profiles, so you can find people you'd like to "follow" in a certain area or who have a certain interest. You can find interesting things to say on Twitter by doing 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.
Brevity of Edits & Link SizingEdit
Because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, you'll need to be very brief. Want to say something longer than 140 characters? Twerbose.com supplies an automated shortlink that refers to it's own temporary webpage, and you can post a picture with your tweet. You will often want to include a URL web link in your tweet, perhaps to an article or website. Web URLs may be very long, so there are now at least 2 services that (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 If you have a long link that you'd like to insert into a tweet, shorten it. is.gd makes the shortest links of usually 17 characters, and if you put a - after the link, it will send people to a pre-view page first so they can be assured where the link is pointing.
bit.ly (and maybe the other short-url-sites as well) offers accounts, which enable you to track how often your generated url was clicked. I was surprised to see as more clicks for some urls than I had followers, it seems like more and more people are rather curious about this new word of mouth method than trusting preselection through commercial source like in traditional media.
Step 4: Re-tweetEdit
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 your 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 what someone else has written.
Re-tweeting is an 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 Twitter this can have an exponential effect. Many people commonly acknowledge it when someone "retweets" what they say.
Step 5: Multiply the tweetEdit
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 or at Intergalactic Network.
Step 6: Word of mouthEdit
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 involved - and the Directors! 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, 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. Collect and recycle interesting things to say, because different people get on Twitter at different time zones and are participating at different time slots. Even given the few thousand Alexander teachers in the world, there are still many more of their students. So 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 caught on with about 25,000 visits over a 3 day period, even though the study was published Aug. 2008. 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 6-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!
Q: Can I overdo it with all this re-tweeting?
A: Absolutely not! Even if something has been re-tweted by several others, it's still useful to re-tweet it yourself. But it will be a little obnoxious if you put into place a service that retweets the same things automatically - just like any habit becomes tiresome.
Q: Why do I need a website to get the benefits from the Twitter Project? I'm listed on a professional society's webpage.
A: You will get some benefit, but most folks don't know the professional societies exist. A personal website can present your "speciality" interests, hobbies or other professional activities you know about and combine with Alexander Technique. On the web people often 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, unless specifically directed to go there. Even when they do, they almost always check out teachers who have their own websites listed, mostly because a website shows pictures, personal stories, etc. Most prospective learners want to know a little about the teacher they're thinking of learning from. Most pupils online will ask someone like yourself how to find a teacher in their area.
Q: Do I benefit from re-tweeting someone else's tweets?
A: Yes, both you and the original tweeter benefit - the viewer sees links to both of your Twitter pages. You can also retweet manually and add your own comments.
Q: Should I follow everyone who follows me?
A: Not necessarily, particularly if they are in a completely different field. You can click on their user name to check out how often they post and if what they say is something you want to see on your "timeline." If an Alexander Technique person follows you, it is useful to follow them, because they'll probably give you interesting things to say to pass on about your shared objectives.
Q: Does it matter when I re-tweet someone else's tweet?
A: 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 think are useful and interesting, go back a few weeks on their Profile page and re-tweet some of their earlier tweets.
What would FM Alexander say?Edit
We can't say for sure since he's been dead for over half a century. But during his lifetime, he "tweeted" in most of the ways that were available to him. He wrote a great many letters to the editor of journals and newspapers, he published pamphlets and adverts about his work, he gave talks, and of course he wrote four books. He even wrote an unfinished autobiography.
Clearly he was never shy about promoting himself and his ideas. Throughout his career, he displayed the imagination, the determination and the hard work seen so often among his countrymen - the sort of pluck that converted a penal colony into the Land of Oz.
So...here is Robert Rickover's idea of what FMA's endorsement of the Alexander Technique Twitter Project might look like:
Thank you for alerting me to The Twitter. I do not pretend to understand its functioning in detail, but it is apparent to me that it provides a useful means whereby my discoveries may gain wider recognition. Moreover, I can imagine that Twitter, and the World Wide Web generally, will further their development. As you know, I always felt I was just scratching the surface of this wonderful field of self-exploration.
Were I at present among you, I would "tweet" my ideas and hope that others would see their way clear to "re-tweeting" them to people around the world. I encourage today's explorers of my Technique to do the same.
Finally, if I may be allowed to indulge in a personal reminiscence, as I child in Tasmania I was fascinated by the wide variety of wildlife that surrounded me - both four-legged and winged. I was especially fond of the Tasmanian Masked Owl which I conceived of as being a symbol for wisdom of a practical nature. So you see, "tweets" - or in this case "hoots" - were an integral part of my upbringing.