Seven Tips to Harness the Power of Twitter for Your Cause
Twitter provides a way for content to spread organically between people, making an organization with a presence on the site more accessible to constituents, building trust and strengthening relationships with activists and donors.
So say Arielle Holland, consultant, and Marc Ruben, vice president, both with M+R Strategic Services, in the recently released whitepaper, Nonprofit Organizing in 140 Characters or Less. Holland and Ruben share some tips for nonprofits looking to harness the power of Twitter for their causes.
The authors note that Twitter differs from other social networks in that it's built for faster-paced conversations — only 140 characters max per message — and it's more public, as conversations get indexed by Google and other search engines.
For organizations wondering if Twitter is the right social-networking fit for them, Holland and Ruben share these seven nuggets of advice:
1. Beware of the bandwagon.
Don't join Twitter because everyone else is. Build your online presence strategically. Consider if Twitter is the right medium to reach your target audience, and what the goals of your Twitter program will be. Know what you want to get out of Twitter before you begin a social-marketing program there, so you'll know who you want to reach and how. Most of all, make sure your organization’s tweets offer value to followers.
2. Staff strategically.
Twitter requires an investment of time. The person maintaining your account should already have experience in Twitter. Make sure the account manager has at least 10 hours a week to devote to maintaining the account and engaging with supporters. The key with Twitter is to be able to react quickly, posting and responding to messages on the fly. If your organization decides to come up with an approval process for posts, make sure it's as streamlined as possible.
3. Build your base.
Do outreach. Start by following staff and interns with personal Twitter accounts. Follow other organizations that work on similar issues to yours. Follow major news outlets or high-profile bloggers and journalists who cover your cause.
Then reach out to your constituents. Some ways to do this recommended by Holland and Ruben are linking to your Twitter page from your Web site; posting a link or sending an announcement about your new Twitter account on other social-media sites your organization uses; featuring your Twitter account in an e-newsletter or adding a link to your Twitter page in your e-mail footers; reaching out to bloggers and tweeters you have relationships with, asking for their help in promoting your new SM presence; and adding a feed of your tweets to a place on your Web site or blog.