Tweet, Tweet: A Crash Course in Twitter for Nonprofits
3. Reply or "social" posts
Pro: On Twitter, an "@" sign before a tweet signifies there's a dialogue going on. Having a lot of these kinds of posts tells followers you're social, connecting with others and being helpful.
Con: If most of your posts start with "@yourfriend," you could alienate other users.
4. Direct message or "e-mail" posts
Pro: Facilitates a private, more personal conversation between two users.
Con: No cons, in Haydon's opinion. "I'm a big believer in one-on-one communication," he said, adding that more than 70 percent of his posts are via direct message.
"At some point, you want to kind of get away from direct message and then go to a phone call, e-mail, those types of situations," Haydon advised. "So, you definitely don't want to maintain a 10-year relationship on Twitter. In fact, it's going to develop into something else."
Twitter vs. e-mail and direct mail
Twitter, e-mail and direct mail all should be used together, not in competition with one another, Haydon said. But he pointed out some of the different characteristics of each and what makes each good for different purposes.
Twitter: Basically free, aside from the staff you have to pay to maintain a Twitter presence. Highly viral in that it's an open network where everyone can see each other's conversations. A good way to organize a supporter base.
E-mail: Highly targeted (a benefit over Twitter). Behavior can be measured, e.g., how are people responding to the e-mail. Highly personalized.
"With Twitter, it's very open; pretty much everybody gets the same message," Haydon said. "So, you can't really personalize it as well, but these two [Twitter and e-mail] should work together."
For example, Twitter can be used to start talking about a particular event, some new study that you did, news about your nonprofit or even an issue that's in the media, and driving people to your Web site to sign up for your e-newsletter.