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TechSoup continued its Social
Media Mondays in May with a discussion on Twitter to expand on the resources
offered in its Nonprofit Social Media 101
wiki. The second installment of the weekly TweetChat series offered some
useful advice on nonprofit Twitter use, a tool that can be difficult to
understand for many nonprofit leaders.
The chat kicked off with the question, "What makes a great
tweet?" Many participants agreed that tweets, while short, can be powerful and can elicit action. Action can be thought of as creating
conversation. One participant said, "A good tweet is something that elicits action offline, for example, a laugh or a conversation. Granted, that's hard to measure." A tweet is
also great when it provides useful information or inspires a reader to
want to learn more. While it is difficult to quantify a great tweet, retweets
can serve as an indicator of impact.
The TechSoup Digital Storytelling Event offered an interesting example of a great tweet in that the campaign kicked
off with a question posed on Twitter that gave followers an opportunity to
share information and resources, opening up an engaging conversation on the
topic of using video for nonprofits and libraries.
When the discussion turned to what words make tweets great
it was revealed that a key ingredient to successful tweets wasn't so much
language but good Twitter etiquette. Politely asking followers to retweet, join,
or click on a link not only gets your tweets noticed but can go a long way
towards spurring follow-up action. Following others back, thanking them, retweeting their content, and adding them to your Twitter lists are also actions that contribute to the success of
It is also worth noting what your Twitter community responds to
such as hashtags, using the complete spelling of certain terms versus
abbreviations, calls to action, solutions, and more. On the subject of retweets, it
is advisable to strive for brevity as it allows others to retweet in full or
add a comment with a retweet. Finally, good Twitter etiquette from nonprofit
organizations demands that tweets sound like they are coming from a real
person, striking a balance between professional and personal.
Once an organization understands the process of tweeting,
the work becomes building community. The first, and often easiest, step is
identifying who are the influencers on the subject of your cause and/or in the
nonprofit field, in your local community and beyond. Genuinely connecting with
an influencer, by directing questions or responses to them in addition to
retweeting their content, can help raise your organizations profile on Twitter.
While it is obvious that organizations should follow influencers, what about
examining who is following you? Organizations should make a point of monitoring
who is in the habit of retweeting their content, what is being said about them
on Twitter and by whom, to get a better sense of who to follow so as to grow
their Twitter community.
Growing a robust and engaged community is vital for
organizations if they are considering using Twitter for fundraising. Success
stories such as the "Digital Death" campaign that raised over $1 million for
AIDS research and the Colorado Gives Day campaign that raised over $8 million
for nonprofits, a portion of which came through Twitter, are great examples of
the fundraising potential that can be generated through Twitter.
recent and timely example is EpicChange's Mother's Day
fundraising campaign. Twitter is often thought of as the social media tool of
choice for nonprofits hoping to garner votes for grant contests such as the
Chase Giving and Pepsi Refresh Challenges.
However, using Twitter solely to
remind your followers to "vote for me" at the exclusion of providing other
useful information or meaningful interaction can result in losing those very
same followers. One chat participant suggested that nonprofits consider holding
a Twitter party, which allows followers to interact with an organization and
one another, for last minute fundraising votes and/or contributions.
Ultimately, successful fundraising is dependent upon having a relationship with
your Twiter community because as one chat participant observed, "People give
Twitter is an ongoing conversation but the reality is that
there are not enough hours in a day, and sometimes not enough staff, to keep
track of everything that is happening in this channel. Fortunately, there are a
number of tools to help organizations monitor what is happening and manage
their use of Twitter. Tools such as HootSuite, CoTweet, or TweetDeck
can help organizations divide up Twitter outreach among staff, schedule tweets,
and monitor keywords. Twitter management clients also have internal functionality designed to shorten links just like Bit.ly, a well-known URL shortener, a vital tool
since character space is at a premium.
For leadership and boards who are interested
in evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of Twitter use, gauging the
effectiveness of tweets and/or overall Twitter influence can be aided with
tools such as TweetReach,
Klout, and Social
Mention. One interesting tool for collecting tweets that revolve around a
particular topic or for TweetChat wrap-up is Storify, which also has the added benefit of
highlighting chat participants who have contributed meaningful dialogue.
The preceding should give organizations a good general idea
of how to use Twitter but, as one chat participant suggested, one of the best
ways to learn Twitter is to jump in right. Notice what others are saying on
Twitter; be aware of trends and current events, and be mindful of separating
fact from fiction. It is worthwhile to consider how your organization and its
work fits into those conversations or what you can contribute to the dialogue
based on your area(s) of expertise.
Twitter should not be considered for
complete self promotional tool and failing to stay relevant to what is happening can result in supporters deciding to unfollow you. Just as with face-to-face
conversations, genuine interest in the people and world around you makes for
great dialogue and will hopefully result in greater goodwill for your
organization. If you're not sure where to start, a simple Twitter search or
tools such as Tweet Scan
are useful for examining conversations pertaining to topics of interest. Over
time your efforts should pay off in building a community of strong supporters
and aiding your fundraising efforts.
The Social Media how-to continues with next week's tweet
chat on using video for nonprofits. Until then, consider visiting the Nonprofit Social Media 101
wiki or the following if you'd like to learn more about Twitter:
Susan ChavezOnline Community & Social Media Team, TechSoup Global@Susan_Chavez