This week, I had the pleasure to share my top Twitter strategies and results of the online campaign #WorkToEquality with nonprofits at the Vrijwilligers Centrale Amsterdam. I am compiling this list based on questions from the audience. This post is meant for newcomers to the Twitter world.
Twitter is a powerful tool to get your nonprofit’s message out there to the relevant audience including your existing community members, donors, volunteers. It is a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast posts called Tweets. Members can broadcast tweets and follow other user’s tweets by using multiple platforms and devices. What makes Twitter fun for most is its character limit of 140! Twitter is the second most popular social networking site with nonprofits after Facebook.
But before you dive into Twitter, make sure you have a social media strategy in place, have trained people who can support your nonprofit with navigating in the Twitter world and have a clear goal in mind about what you want to achieve.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1- Twitter Profile: Twitter profile is your nonprofit’s identity on the platform. Be sure that you have filled the profile and have proper images in place that fit with the requirements for uploading the photo. The recommended dimensions for Twitter header are 1500×1500 pixels and for profile photo are 400×400 pixels.
The first thing I do before I follow someone, is look at their profile. And if their profile does not give me accurate information about what a Twitter account is about and what is it that they do, I would be reluctant to follow it. So make sure your profile is filled completely.
2- Twitter policy and guidelines: Twitter is public. While there is an option to make your tweets private, Twitter conversations are largely public. Anyone can view them and respond to them. Tweets by influentials and news-makers are used by media outlets as official statements and comments. It can have serious consequences if an organisation does not have a basic social media policy in place for its staff. Take some time to look around or ask an expert to provide some guidance on how to put one in place.
2- Use of hashtags: Hashtags are a great way to segregate conversation around a topic that you are interested in. It always help if your organisation or your project has a custom hashtag that followers can identify you with. It will be worthwhile to take some time to research which hashtags are popular on Twitter and are related to your case or topic of interest. I will write more about popular hashtags in my next blog.
3- Follow other people: Follow other people that are related to your cause or the people you wish to get attention from. People tend to keep an eye on who is following them and what conversations they are having. This helps Twitter to generate results of profile based on the audience you are already following and sometimes, you might be surprised to see what kind of profiles come up in the suggestions. But remember, you do no have to follow everyone who follows you.
4- Add links to your website: Links to your website both in your profile and bio and in your tweets will help generate traffic towards your nonprofit. Not all your tweets need to have a link to the website because you might also want to post about other informational, educational things. Which is why it is important to have the links updated in the bio section of your Twitter account.
5- What to post: Twitter is interactive. If you do only one-sided broadcasts, the results will not be optimum. You need to have a good amount of balance in what you post. This could be retweeting (sharing) other people’s content, posting visual content and videos, informational tweets about your cause, sharing community stories, sharing project successes and every now and then, a call to action or donation. Make sure you keep an eye on who is interacting with your posts and acknowledge them.
6- Participate in ongoing conversations: Once you have figured out what other organisations and hashtags are that are relevant to your cause, make sure you engage in those conversations and add value to the ongoing Twitter chats. You will see an increase in your followers following these conversations.
7- Use Twitter Analytics: Analytics are a great way to measure progress and results to see if your hard way is paying off. Twitter has it’s own analytics platform which gives you statistics about impressions, your top influencers, followers and profile views. This tool is great for beginners. If you feel you can take on more, it is worthwhile to look into tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, Twitonomy and Commun.it. I also had good experience with Twitter Counter. If you want to look into optimizing your timings, take a look at TweetStats.
8- Acknowledge your Followers: When someone Follows, Retweets or Likes your content, acknowledge them. Engagements are a valuable indicator of the fact that your content is resonating with your audience. You can also acknowledge them sometimes by engaging with their tweets if they are relevant to your work.
9- Schedule Time for Tweets: It is a good idea to spend 15-20 minutes three times a day to observe, listen, and react to what people are saying on Twitter in addition to broadcasting your non-profit’s message.
10- Automate: There are so many tools like Buffer and HootSuite which allow you to schedule tweets and automate. It might save you some time if you already have an editorial calendar which clearly stays what messages you want to broadcast on daily basis. You can spend the rest of the time actually engaging with your followers and taking part in conversation.
You can also take a look at Twitter Nonprofits account which highlights use of Twitter in the nonprofit community.
Stay tuned for my next blog on hashtags!