Insights from an influential Twitterer

Alice Stollmeyer in front of the European parliament

When researching influence on Twitter for digital advocacy, there is a name that consistently leads the rankings: Alice Stollmeyer.

A quick search reveals that Ms. Stollmeyer is actually more influential on Twitter than many elected officials. How is this possible? We interviewed Alice to find out and to gather her insights on the use of Twitter for public affairs.

You are known as a professional blogger on EU energy policy, but big oil, gas and coal companies may not be happy that you are influential…. What is your response to them?
With a background in energy and strategic communications, it is perfectly legitimate for me to participate in the energy debate. Little by little, I have become an essential part of the Brussels eco-system, and I am consistently ranked as an influential EU Twitterer on energy and climate change. So I think that means my input is relevant and useful to many readers.
Do you feel that your independence plays a key role?
Yes, definitely. People see me as a trustworthy source of information, because I don’t represent any corporate interests. The advantage of being independent is also that I can be much more frank in my comments and ask critical questions. Compared to many companies and associations, I do not have to ask permission every time I write a tweet.
So you can be much more spontaneous…
Yes, I can truly tweet in real time. I am told that my expertise, my ability to deliver scoops, share personal opinions, stay independent and be authentic are the reasons I have become an opinion former in Brussels.
During the two years that you have been a professional Twitterer, why do you think that so many people have started to follow you?
Apart from my independence, someone told me that he likes the fact that I have a broader vision, a helicopter view of sorts. I am tweeting about all the relevant issues that I come across and linking them together, like Ukraine and energy security, for example. Some people appreciate that I am not afraid to ask tough questions, even to high-placed decision-makers.
Others tell me that I am their main source of information. Officials from the European Commission or PermReps follow me because I not only deliver the latest news but also because I add personal insight of events and discussions on the ground.
I noticed that media is quoting you in some articles – how are you influencing the news via Twitter?
I do not tweet having in mind to get more followers or to be quoted in the media – but if this happens it is of course nice, because it increases my influence. My purpose is to make a difference for the planet, which is why I do what I do.
I believe that the use of Twitter for public affairs is still in its infancy – most organisations only use Twitter to communicate very specific views or to do brief campaigns and they have to be careful of what they are saying online.
Because I am quick to react and spot trends it is true that I uncover scoops and that I connect dossiers or launch new ideas. For example, I am quite certain that I was one of the first people to link the Ukraine situation to the 2030 framework discussions on energy and climate change.

My message is that we can all make a difference if we believe in what we are doing.

Would you agree that Twitter can change opinions?

Definitely. Although I am only one person – I am not an NGO, I am not an official and I do not have any decision-making power – I am contributing to the dialogue and making a difference, which is fantastic.

My message is that we can all make a difference if we believe in what we are doing. Personally I am determined to drive forward the transition to a more efficient and renewable economy, which is crucial for our future.

What are the best ways to build engagement and build a following on Twitter? Do you have any tips and recommendations?

First, it is important to have a good Twitter profile with a nice picture and a short bio that encourages other people to follow you.

Twitter is all about consistency and maintaining a presence with insightful content and a consistent style. This is key in order to build engagement. The tools I use to help me in my work include TweetDeck for tracking conversations and organisation of my tweets, to see how many people are clicking on my links and Sumall,Klout and Twitter Analytics to keep up on my influence.

Choosing the right hashtag at the right time is essential. For example, even before the 2030 framework was presented by the Commission I suggested to them the use of the #EU2030 hashtag, and it has caught on and become a useful central gathering point for opinions on the 2030 climate and energy framework.

You publish a daily Storify newsletter with energy news and views. How is it useful? Are you looking at other ways of getting your message out, like writing a weekly blog or a filming a weekly video message?

My Storify is almost like a daily energy and climate newsletter and it allows people to subscribe to my feed and see what is happening, without even using twitter. I share it on Linkedin, Facebook and Google+ to reach a larger audience. It is also useful as an archive of conversations that I can refer to quickly and easily.

My focus will remain on Twitter, although I have recently been filmed by CommentVisions and made a short video for the AskBarroso debate on Euronews.

If any of our readers are wondering how they could be aligned with you or sponsor your activities, what would be your message to them?

Yes, I am open to partnerships although I cannot be financed or sponsored by one single player, since this would conflict with my independence. If there is a wide variety of organisations, institutions, PermReps, NGOs and progressive businesses to become donators or subscribers to my services, this would be ideal.

Another possibility would be to help organisations as digital strategic communications consultant, although this would come second to my Twitter duties.

Back in 2011 you wrote: “In my personal life I am moving from ‘observer’ to ‘participant’ in politics”. Today you are definitely an influential participant in politics. What is next for Alice Stollmeyer?

I will continue to work on European climate and energy issues, though I may do this in another role. But for now I would like to continue what I am already doing – it is a truly unique role and I feel that there needs to be someone who is playing it.

To connect with Alice Stollmeyer visit @StollmeyerEU.