When I’m not digging through tons of nonprofit data or spending time with my family, then I’m closely following Formula 1 racing. The pinnacle of motorsport has raced around the globe since 1950 and has more than 500 million viewers each year from around the world.

I created a separate Twitter account back in 2009 to cover all things F1 with the goal of not clogging up my personal Twitter stream. What started out as a fun experiment has grown into quite a following.

As the 2013 season begins this weekend, I’ve added more than 55,000 followers of F1Grid. That’s more than most journalists covering the sport full-time. Not bad for a hobby that’s turned into an interesting learning experience.

I thought that I would share some lessons that I have learned along the way…

1. Focus on Your Audience: For every single topic or interest area there’s always some kind of audience. It might be millions or just a few people. But really knowing your audience and focusing on communicating and engaging with them is critical. I have learned how important it is to be responsive to fans all over the world from Brazil to Britain, India to Italy, Japan to Germany, and Singapore to Seattle. And they are quick to remind me when I stray off topic or want more insights about a particular area.

2. Always Be Retweeting: Sharing is caring and nothing shows that more than retweeting. Find, follow, and share the tweets of others discussing similar topics. It also helps to keep a steady stream of tweets coming from your account. I try to keep a high retweet-to-tweet ratio going during the week. It’s a good way to acknowledge others and widen the circle of people you engage with.

3. Be Multimedia Friendly: Posting or linking to photos, videos, or other content is really critical to growing your number of engaged followers. I try and include a lot of photos or video links when tweeting. It’s not uncommon to get close to 25,000 image views during a single race weekend.

4. Have a Sense of Humor: We’re humans not robots. So even if you’re dealing with serious topics it’s important to have moments of levity. I have tried to mix in humor and snark from time to time. Although I have learned that not all cultures appreciate sarcasm.

5. Always Be Trying New Things: What has worked for me might not work for you. I’ve tried just about every Twitter app on the planet. I’ve tried tweeting about other motorsports and it didn’t work out so well. I’ve learned that scheduled tweets can help during the day when I have a real job to focus on. Be wiling to try new things and test. It’s the only guaranteed way to get better results over time.

I’ve gone back and forth several times about whether or not to post something about my “other” Twitter account. I hope there are some useful nuggets for organizations that want to grow their reach and levels of engagement using social media.

Cover Image Credit: http://dribbble.com/shots/781316-Twitter-Logo-Icons

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve MacLaughlin is a Director of Analytics at Blackbaud, the leading provider of technology and services to the nonprofit sector. Steve has spent 20+ years driving innovation with a broad range of companies, government institutions, and nonprofit organizations.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Institute of Fundraising National Convention, Civil Society Conference, Resoure Alliance’s Fundraising Online, and a keynote speaker at such events as the Crescendo Practical Planned Giving Conference.

Steve serves on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and supports its focus on both the growth and professionalism of the nonprofit technology field as well as building knowledge and information sharing capacity throughout the sector.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, will be published in September 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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