Monday, June 15, 2009

Tweeting For Your Nonprofit (Part II)

Below are additional tips and suggestions for improving your nonprofit’s exposure by using Twitter. These follow a post generated on Sunday, June 7.

4. Follow Your Impact on Twitter By Monitoring Retweets

How are your followers responding to your tweets? Are they retweeting your messages to disseminate them to an even wider audience? Occasionally, click your profile name on the menu that appears on the right side of the screen to find out how many tweets sent by other tweeple reference your profile name. Many could include retweets of former postings you generated. Continue building this loyalty among followers so they become great mouthpieces for your organization and its cause.

5. Drive Followers to Your Web Site (and Measure the Impact)

Thanks to, Twitter users can convert long URL addresses into short pithy links to web sites, which can be embedded in tweets. Indeed, an excellent way to ensure a loyal audience of Twitter followers is to serve as a reliable information resource. Sending Tiny URL links to other web pages and documents is a good way to do that. If you monitor the traffic your web site receives (and if you don't, you should), you can measure the impact of tweets on your followers by tweeting links to your web site (perhaps to new videos, pages or project success stories recently posted) and then determining whether your web traffic has increased. It's not an exact science, but if you notice a significant uptick in your web site visitors shortly after you've posted a tweet with a web site link, you'll have a good guess why people came by).

6. Tweet Often

As Woody Allen said, fifty percent of success is just showing up. Or was it sixty, or seventy or eighty percent? I forget, but the point remains. Tweeting often convinces your followers and the Twitterverse that you're in it for the long haul, that you didn't just set up an account to see what it is like. One tweet I received the other day linked to an article claiming that more than 80 percent of Twitter profiles have fewer than 10 followers. Individuals just passing through don't interest other tweeple and so, to ensure you are not one of those, tweet loud and tweet often. You'll generate respect and engagement (though it may take time) and, in the end, you'll have discovered a great tool that is already having a huge impact in online communications and allows you to spread the word about your great cause and mission!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tweeting For Your Nonprofit (Part I)

I wish Twitter had been around back in the days when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sri Lanka and the communications director of a non-profit humanitarian organization, American Near East Refugee Aid. Twitter can help communications professionals connect with new supporters, donors and other stakeholders, and develop exposure for the needs facing underserved populations around the world. For those professionals currently tasked with fundraising and generating visibility for your mission or who want to incorporate the use of Twitter into your marketing strategy, here are a few tips and suggestions.

1. Find mutually passionate individuals utilizing Twitter and hashtags

If your organization uses Twitter, one way to reach potential supporters is to find them with hashtags. Tweets are often followed by a number sign and word (e.g. #gaza). These "hashtags" offer a system for filing tweets by subject. At, enter a keyword that is critical to your mission in the box at the top of the screen. Other individuals who have tweeted about this subject with the hashtag will appear in a list that scrolls down the screen. (ANERA, the organization I worked for, provides aid to economically and socially challenged individuals in the Middle East, hence my above example of the Gaza hashtag). Checking out the profiles of those tweeting about subjects related to your mission may encourage you to follow those matching your target audiences. In turn, the connection you establish may encourage them to follow you, as well, creating the basis for a relationship.

2. Find Reporters Who Tweet

Keep a sharp eye out for articles that appear in traditional media related to your mission and/or cause. More and more reporters are using Twitter, and it would be worthwhile, when you find articles highlighting your area of concern, to research the reporter online and determine whether they have Twitter profiles. Following reporters positions you to serve as a resource (and a potential interview source) as they develop more editorial related to the subject. Establishing a Twitter connection also provides access to the reporter's followers, another channel for identifying stakeholders. Scrolling through these followers can help you find other individuals your organization may want to know about, as many of them likely are interested in the same topic as you (i.e. the type of editorial generated by the reporter).

3. Follow Other Fundraising/Charitable Organizations

Are organizations utilizing Twitter to generate coverage for a capital fundraising campaign? Are they tweeting statistics to highlight the plight of underserved populations around the world and to encourage donations? Social media has been, is, and maybe always will be a work-in-progress and in flux. Following other organizations to find out how they are maximizing the value of their presence on Twitter can provide you with ideas or examples for how to successfully execute a communications strategy. One internationally-oriented organization that has a great presence (and a lot of followers!) on Twitter is @charitywater. Another good one is @theonecampaign.