Twitter 101 for Nonprofits | npENGAGE

Twitter 101 for Nonprofits

By on Sep 11, 2009


Twitter 101 for NonprofitsTwitter is one of the fastest growing social networks in the world (Mashable). We’ve talked about Why Twitter Matters a bit, but there’s so much more that we can learn from what nonprofits are doing. Over the past year nonprofit organizations have begun to see the potential in using Twitter for fundraising, outbound communication, community building, marketing, sales, and more. Jeff Patrick from Common Knowledge and I recently had the opportunity to do a webinar where we shared some thoughts related to Twitter and the nonprofit space (see slides Twitter 101 for Nonprofits).

A few of the things we talked about …

What is Twitter?

Twitter describes itself as, “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

But you will soon learn that the service is much much more. Think about Microblogging (huh?), Outbound Communication, Listening/research, Conversation, Community building, Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Fundraising and more …

How does Twitter work?

The best thing you can do right now is watch Twitter in plain English and Twitter search in plain English by Common Craft. If you don’t know how Twitter works after watching those check out:

How big is the Twitter base?

This graph pretty much tells the story if you ask me. There were 21 mil US visitors in July of 2009. That’s twenty seven (27) fold growth in one (1) year! A couple things you should also see:

  • 35-54 year old individuals make up the largest segment of users. It’s not just for high school kids.
  • 12-17 & 18-24 year old individuals make up the group that is growing the fastest in recent months. High school kids are catching on.

Twitter Growth

Twitter Tips and Best Practices

Step one is to fill out your entire profile.

  • Use a human picture
  • Write a short bio and link to your website/blog
  • Speak in a human voice

Step two requires checking your motives. Twitter is not just another way to tell people about you or your organization. It’s not just another megaphone to yell at people with. It’s a place to interact, participate, talk, respond, and listen.

Step three is about strategy. You should begin thinking about how Twitter fits into your overall online/offline strategy.

  • Is Twitter something you should be using at all?
  • Answer the question “Why am I on Twitter?”
  • Identify staff participants
  • Identify your audience
  • Find people to follow (Twitter searchWeFollow and Twellow will help you here)
  • Determine how often you will participate
  • Know your tone, identity, language, interests, and relationship
  • Be a person and an organization
  • Present the personal angle to organizational topics/issues
  • Sincerity, transparency, and democracy

Step four is all about participation. Remember this is social media. It’s a world where people expect to be treated as human beings, respected, interacted with and heard.

  • Listen to what’s being said about your, your org, your staff, etc…
  • Participate regularly
  • Engage with your followers and fellow tweeters
  • Be ready to learn from your followers
  • Retweet, respond, ask, and follow

Check out our recent info on Social Media for Nonprofits if you’re looking for more info and examples of what nonprofits are doing.

Step five … we’ll we don’t go that far on this one, but we will in the future.

Twitter 101 For Nonprofits — View more presentations from frank barry.

Let us know what questions and/or comments you have. We’d LOVE to hear about how you’re using Twitter as a nonprofit.


Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *