Attention Tweeps: Twitter me this!?!

I just returned from the Boys & Girls Club conference and I’m back in the blog saddle again. Wow, I missed all of you! I hope you enjoyed reading Nathan Hand’s 5-part series last week on Twitter. I really think he is a wickedly smart resource development professional and blogger who we will all hear a lot from in the future. As for today’s post, I want to put a bow on everything Nathan wrote about last week by answering this simple question:

What should my non-profit Tweet about now that I know how to do it?

I think Nathan did a nice job last week of describing Twitter as a cocktail party, and my best advice is to Tweet about similar sorts of things you might chat about at such party. Please don’t gossip or tell the world what you just had for lunch. Perhaps, it would be best for us to look at a real life example from my hometown — United Way of Elgin. The following are just a few Tweets they posted in the last few weeks:

You can see from these three examples, that my United Way does a nice job of: 1) promoting causes that align with one of the issues in their impact agenda (e.g. education), 2) pay tribute to and provide a sense of “connectivity” and “family” between volunteers and donors (e.g. the passing of Steve Munson), and 3) support other non-profits with whom they collaborate and are aligned (e.g. YWCA Elgin).

United Way of Elgin — otherwise known as @UnitedWayElgin in the Twitterverse — is not perfect. They could do a better job of Tweeting more content on a daily basis and refining their voice and online personality. However, they certainly are further ahead of the curve than most other non-profits in my community. They are learning as they experiment and refuse to be left behind on the information super-highway.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is still very new and evolving. I’ve seen non-profits use Twitter for prospect cultivation, donor solicitation, and stewardship. Everyone seems to be using this social media platform in different ways, and I think we can all learn from each other. Here are just a few tips I have for those of you who were inspired to jump into Twitter by Nathan’s 5-part Twitter series last week:

  1. Try to read posts about Twitter best practices for non-profit organizations once per week (simply use Google). Click here to read a good article I found this morning when I searched teh following key words: “Twitter nonprofit best practices”.
  2. Some of the best advice I ever received was from following Beth Kanter, who once suggested actively “listen” for awhile before starting to Tweet. So, open your account . . . follow a handful of other organizations you think do a good job with Twitter . . . and take good notes on what you like and dislike.
  3. Speaking of Beth Kanter, subscribe to a blog or two that specializes in social media or Twitter. You will learn a lot in a very short period of time . . . and it is FREE!!!
  4. Be strategic with your organization’s social media strategy. What will you use Facebook for? Twitter? LinkedIn? YouTube? Each social network can serve a different function in your ePhilanthropy strategy. I wouldn’t waste time duplicating information on each of these platforms. Take time to develop individual strategies for each niche. Perhaps, Twitter is where you cultivate new prospective donors AND Facebook is where you steward existing donors (aka Friends) AND your website is where you drive people for online solicitation purposes. I don’t know . . . but I suggest you figure it out.

My best advice is don’t get too carried away (like you can see when clicking on this funny YouTube video) with social media technology. If you get totally consumed by “cutting edge technology” before the market figures out best practices, then you run the risk of bleeding to death. However, it makes sense to set-up your account, start listening, and experiment so that you aren’t left behind in the cyber-dust.

How is your organization using Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? YouTube? What response have you received from donors and volunteers? Has anyone used these social media tools to help add more connectivity between your annual campaign volunteers or manage your campaign? Please use the comment box to weigh-in with your thoughts because we can all learn from each other.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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