Twitter for Nonprofits

Twitter is a social networking tool that allows users to send quick updates or links to their followers. Brevity is the signature characteristic of this platform.

Pros and Cons

Twitter is an online platform that can be used both to broadcast information as well as communicate directly with individual accounts. Users can tweet at celebrities, reporters, or influencers with an incredibly low threshold of risk. They can choose to reply, retweet, or easily ignore it. The culture of Twitter has thus afforded many unlikely connections.

Twitter has shown strong growth in the number of its users, although that rate of growth has slowed a bit recently. Fewer Twitter users than those on Facebook check the site daily. Many Twitter users choose merely to consume content rather than create their own which makes it hard to tell how many people your tweets are actually reaching based solely on interactions.

Since Twitter is noisy, with hundreds of millions of tweets sent every day, the lifespan of a tweet is relatively short. It can be frustrating to create tweets that get lost in the chatter.

Accounts are expected to be consistently active. Even if your organization schedules tweets ahead of time, someone will still need to check notifications regularly. If an account tweets directly at you or mentions you, the sooner you respond or acknowledge it, the better.

Twitter can be one of the more time-consuming social media platforms, particularly when just starting out. Consider using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck so you wont have to log into Twitter and post in real-time. There are a lot of Twitter tools, most of which can be used for free, that also aim to make site maintenance easier. Some allow you to connect multiple platforms, so you can schedule and review upcoming posts for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all in one place.

Set-up

Below are the steps to get your nonprofit’s Twitter account up and running:

1.Decide on your Twitter handle — remember that shorter is better.

2. Since you have a limited amount of space to use for your company bio, make sure it gives a clear representation of what your nonprofit does.

3. Choose high quality images for your profile picture and banner.

Tw1

4. Start following others to build up a base.

5. Engage with others by retweeting and favoriting their posts.

Tw22

Content

The most successful Twitter accounts post multiple times a day. Recycling similar tweets about your nonprofit is fine, but keep in mind that not all of your content should be about your organization. Twitter is a great way to build community and interact with other users. Thus, some of your content should be to your followers benefit, providing links to educational articles or broadcasting events they may be interested in. If you send out 3 tweets in a day, a good rule of thumb is to only have 1 of those be self-promoting. Tweeting links to your own informational blog posts will integrate these two goals.

twitter1

Because of the character limit, the ability to synthesize and grab interest quickly is key. Generate content that is interesting and eye-catching by including images and video links to get tweets noticed.

twitter2

Hashtags are an organizational tool that help label content. They allow you to start or join conversations while providing followers the ability to isolate information by subscribing to the specific hashtag. When you use #tbt (#ThrowbackThursday) in one of your tweets, your post joins the stream of thousands of others using the same hashtag. Create a unique hashtag for your organization so interested users can specifically follow it without your getting lost in the sea of all others employing the same one. Every campaign you run should similarly have its own hashtag.

Tw4

Lists can be a helpful way to organize the accounts you’re following. If you’re interested in Boston events, climate change, and fundraising trends, your main feed will likely be showing quite a range of topics. Assigning accounts to lists provides a means of categorizing content and only view one segment of interests at a time. Lists can be public or private. Public lists can be seen by anyone and the accounts you add are notified that you’ve done so. Others can subscribe to your public lists, too. Private lists are only visible to you.

Tw33

How to Measure Success

If you’re using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite, they can provide you with insights, although those are not always free. Twitter is starting to roll out internal analytics for its users. From your own feed, you can see the impressions and click-through rates on individual tweets. To see trends, you can visit your Tweet activity dashboard.

tweet2

A steady growth in the number of users following your account is a good indicator that people are interested in what you’re saying. Engagement (in the form of replies, retweets, favorites, link click-throughs) can also provide you with insights into what content is resonating most strongly with your community. To see who your most influential followers are, who’s linking to you, and how many profile views you’re getting, take a look at your account’s analytics page.