A Content Plan For Twitter: What Should Your Organization Tweet?

Whether you use your Twitter account for personal or business reasons, one of the biggest challenges is deciding what—and when—to tweet. Tweeting your every move can turn off your followers, while failing to tweet at all can cause those once eager followers to lose interest.

Fortunately there are some techniques your business can use to make the most of your online presence. Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the wave of the future, and it is important for companies of all sizes to use the power of these sites to grow their brands and please their customers.

  • Think about what you are interested in and use that as the basis of your tweets.  Keep abreast of the latest developments in your organizations topic areas and pass that interesting information along to your supporters.
  • Spread your tweets out among several different staff members and maybe even volunteers, rather than doing all the work on your own.  Having more than one person tweeting will also bring a number of different viewpoints to the table as well. You can do this easily with Hootsuite or Cotweet.
  • Use Twitter to promote your blog posts, but be sure to provide some background information along with the link.  Make your followers want to click your links by providing interesting and useful content. Use a shortener service like bit.ly so you can get more room for your descriptions!
  • Solicit the opinions of your followers, and don’t be afraid to let them ask questions.  You can learn a a great deal about how your organization is viewed in the outside world by interacting with your Twitter followers. If you want hardcore surveys check out Wufoo, it lets you create any kind of forms you want.
  • Follow interesting people and companies, both inside and outside your industry.  Twitter is a great place to build your organization and your personal network.
  • Tweet about non-cause related items as well.  While Twitter is a great place to promote your organization, it is also a great place to learn from the experiences of others.  If you find something interesting, tweet it to your online followers.
  • Make your tweets useful, especially when you are promoting your own programs and services.  Make sure that the information you provide will be interesting and useful to your followers. Try to answer the standard questions like “who, what, when, and where”. Also if your so inclined answer the “why”.
  • Share your organization’s human side, including any outside activities and cause marketing endeavors.  Encourage your staff to tweet about their personal lives as well as the business side of their lives.
  • Resist the urge to promote your organization constantly.  It is fine to use Twitter as a marketing tool, but the site should be much more than just promoting your business. We can’t stress this enough because even though you probably have many passionate followers that love you, they don’t really want to only hear about you.
  • Post interesting articles from both inside and outside your niche.  The people who are following you on Twitter will have many different interests, so be sure to tweet the things you find interesting.  Chances are good that someone on your list of Twitter contacts will find the information you post interesting and relevant.
  • Share images and video. Everyone wants to see what your organization is up to. Make it easy for folks to then share those images and video with their followers as well by using an online service like Flickr, YouTube, or Vimeo.

Twitter is a powerful marketing tool for your cause, but it is much more than that.  The world of social networking has transformed the way we interact with one another, and smart non-profits who were able to get in on the ground floor of this new media sensation are already reaping the rewards. Overall, we’ve found that its really just laziness that gets in the way of most organizations following a content plan like this. Break that cycle now and if you need help feel free to get in touch!

Image courtesy of Twitter Buttons on Etsy

10 Twitter Marketing Tips for Your Non-Profit

Twitter can be a valuable marketing tool for your business, but the sheer enormity of the Twitter network can be a bit overwhelming.  If you have just joined Twitter, you may find yourself fielding follower requests.  You may also feel the need to tweet your every move, but it is important to put some sanity back into your Twitter-enabled life.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when you are just getting started with Twitter.  These rules apply whether you are using Twitter for business or for personal reasons, but they can be even more critical when it comes to business Twitter sites.

  1. Avoid the temptation to read every tweet from your followers. It can be tempting to try to keep up with what all of your followers are doing, but the enormous size of the Twitter network makes this impossible.
  2. You do not need to apply to every tweet you receive, even if that tweet is directed only at you. It is important to review each tweet you receive and choose the ones you want to respond to.
  3. Be sure to use the one on one communication feature of Twitter for private conversations. There is no need for all your followers to participate in a conversation directed at only a single person.
  4. Use the Twitter search feature to look for mentions of your organization. Twitter is a great way to keep track of what others are saying about you and how your business is perceived in the wider world.  Join the conversation about your cause when it makes sense to do so.
  5. Use third party programs to manage your Twitter life. Twitter can be a complicated place, and applications like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can make it a lot easier to manage your tweets and your follower community. You can even set tweets to go out at specified times in the future – awesomesauce!
  6. Ask a few trusted employees to tweet on your organization’s behalf, but be sure those workers are getting their regular work done as well. Having more than one person tweeting on behalf of the organization is a great way to give an individual voice to your company while providing a varied point of view.
  7. Post links to interesting news articles or blog posts, but always use a link shortening tool like Bit.ly to make those posts manageable.
  8. Use Twitter as a marketing tool, but also use it for fun. Using Twitter to share fun or interesting stories will get you more followers and make you a more interesting Twitter user.
  9. Be sure to comment on other people’s tweets on a regular basis. Commenting on what others are talking about is a great way to build a community of like minded people
  10. Make your tweets interesting and useful. Whether you are working with your website or your Twitter account, it is still important to provide your readers with interesting and engaging content.  Twitter is a powerful tool for communication and marketing, but it is important to use this powerful tool the right way.

If Social Media Sites Were Superheroes…

I ran into this quite hysterical infographic explaining what kind of social media sites are out there. Its quite true that each of these social networks is great in its own right, but when put into the context of using all of these, you can see right away which ones end up becoming the leaders (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). Even though its a funny piece, there is some truth to it that our readers could benefit from. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these sites then we suggest you get to know them and try them out. At the very least, you need to understand the who and why of these social networks to make sure you’re not alienating any of your supporters by not being represented on there.

Hope you enjoy and be sure to check out the original link because it also has other links to great infographics that are just as informative!

9 Fatal Mistakes to Avoid When Using Twitter to Market Your Nonprofit Cause

Twitter can be an excellent tool for marketing your cause and bringing in new supporters, but we’ve been noticing many organizations that are making mistakes that could easily be avoided. Now of course we don’t want to point out exactly whom the offenders are, but we would like to share the 9 fatal mistakes to avoid when using Twitter to market your cause so you don’t fall into the same trap.

  1. Tweeting too much
    Bombarding your supporters with unnecessary updates is a sure way to lose followers. Think before you tweet: Is this information really worthy of your followers’ time? Does it help promote the cause or does it make you sound like a used car salesman? Is it on point with your branding efforts?
  2. Tweeting too little
    On the other hand, you don’t want your supporters to think that you’ve forgotten them. If you can’t think of anything useful to tweet, just post a link to something you think will interest them that is still on brand for your nonprofit. For instance, if your cause deals with homelessness then perhaps share a link to an article about the subject, or a personal blog post of a supporter explaining why they help you cause, or even better, share a link to something visual like this infographic!
  3. Retweeting for no reason
    It’s always nice to receive tweets of praise from supporters, but do your Twitter followers really want to be informed of every piece of feedback you receive? More likely, you will be perceived to be boasting, which is rarely a good Twitter tactic. So please choose wisely when retweeting praise like this. Sometimes the best thing to do is just reply to the person on twitter and thank them for their kind words and praise. If someone wants to see what they said then they’ll follow the conversation and check it out for themselves.
  4. Never retweeting
    Retweeting has its place. If it’s clear that one of your followers has put a lot of thought into their tweet, do them the honor of retweeting their message. Similarly, if you receive a tweet that you think will interest people, pass it on. Remember to always make sure that the retweet is still on brand with what your messaging should be. For instance, its probably not a good idea to retweet a department store saying they have an excellent sale coming up when your cause deals with poverty.
  5. Never using hashtags
    Hashtags are a great way of tagging, AKA keywording, your tweets so that other people who might be searching for that term will find your post. A hashtag is marked by the # sign before a word. The hashtag usually is not used in the actual sentence of your message and it always seems to look better added to the very end of it. Here is a good example of how to use a hashtag.
  6. Using hashtags the wrong way
    We’ve literally seen some organizations hashtag every word of their tweet and we’ve seen others hashtag their own name. Both of these methods are absolutely unnecessary. You never have to hashtag your own orgs name, unless it is different from your twitter handle, because when someone searches for your org, all of your tweets will show up for them. Its also way overkill to hashtag every word in your tweet.
  7. Poor interaction with followers
    Some causes never bother to reply to tweets from their followers, unless absolutely necessary. It’s important to interact with your followers because this helps build a relationship of trust and support. The biggest thing to understand is that social media is ALL about the conversation between you and your supporters, as well as them to eachother talking about you. When someone takes the time to mention you, reply and be sincere.
  8. Tweeting incomplete information
    If you are going to tweet an interesting link to your followers, remember to add a small description of where the link is going. Why would someone want to click a link with no idea of where it will go? We see this happen with bit.ly and owl.ly links a lot. Its fine to use URL shortener services, but make sure you always give a description and one that, again, is in the tone and on brand with your messaging.
  9. Publicity overkill
    Using your Twitter account to harass your followers with asks for donations, special offers, discounts, new program links, and generally using it like a free advertising campaign, is the biggest mistake that your cause can make. Nobody wants to have advertisements thrown at them all the time. Like we’ve said previously, social media is about the conversation and thats what you should always be thinking about when interacting with your supporters.

Taking all of these mistakes into consideration, here are 10 causes on Twitter that ARE doing it right! I highly suggest following them and seeing how they keep in touch with their supporters on a regular basis.

  • Pets Alive* does a terrific job replying and generally communicating in a casual tone with their supporters. They’re a great example of building trust through Twitter.
  • Do Something is one of my favorite organizations to watch on Twitter. Founder Nancy Lublin and her staff do a terrific job at retweeting, replying, and using hashtags everyday. You should also be sure to watch them on Twitter as the Do Something Awards approach. They did an amazing job live tweeting from this event last year and I’m sure this year will be even cooler!
  • Craigslist Foundation provides links to relevant info for other causes and folks involved with making real change in their communities. They’re tone is on brand with the positioning they’re taking in the nonprofit industry and their thirst to influence the government sector. Their annual Bootcamp is happening this week so be sure to follow them to see what comes out of this awesome event.
  • Witness has a cunning ability to take a hard subject like human rights abuses and make it easy to digest in 140 character snippets. They’re  good example of always being humble about the support your organization receives: always thanking everyone who retweets them or shares a link. They also share powerfully emotional video narratives on human rights.
  • Surfrider has a very nice mixture of replies and links in both a conversational tone and an authoritative tone when appropriate. They’re also a great example of pushing membership without being “pushy”.
  • Gates Foundation provides links about their intiatives, retweets and replies everyday. They’ve also been doing a Photo Of The Day tweet which is a really awesome idea as well. Definitely check out their actual Twitter page too because their background image is a great example of using imagery in their profile to stay on brand and also evoke emotion from the viewer (a future blog post to come).
  • Oxfam* amazes me on a daily basis. They reply, retweet, post articles and news, share links, and do it all while always remaining on brand. Yes, they’re a client and I’m probably a little bias but damn they do an amazing job at keeping up with the twitterverse.
  • Robin Hood isn’t afraid to ask for support. They do a phenominal job asking for their supporters to retweet and they even thank them when they do! I’ve also noticed they do an excellent job of pointing out donations made to their Crowdrise page as well – this little touch totally goes the extra mile. Hey, it convinced me to give to them!
  • Room To Read greets their followers at random everyday. Not just once and a while, its everyday. Thats awesome and it makes them a very unique organization on Twitter because they take the time to identify with their supporters on a personal level. They also retweet and reply to folks on a regular basis and always seem to keep it on brand and reflective of the mission of R2R.
  • Doctors w/o Borders is a great example of using video, photography, and one-off campaigns via Twitter. Any day you can check out their twitter feed and I guarantee you’ll see them linking to powerful visuals about the organization. They also do a terrific job on reporting about what they’re other chapters are doing around the world.

* Denotes a client of Mark & Phil.

Photo from Tveskov on Flickr