Twitter is one of the biggest and most powerful social media networks out there with more than 206 million daily active users worldwide. It’s often referred to as a modern-day ‘public square’ providing space where individuals, organizations, and institutions interact with each other. Twitter’s microblogging system allows users to express their opinions and views, publish news stories, and discuss the most pressing issues of the world today. You also have real-time access to continuous feed and reactions from public figures, celebrities, and thought leaders who regularly flock to the platform. For nonprofits, in particular, Twitter isn’t just another interactive platform to share urgent news stories, start a fundraiser, or issue calls to action. It’s a direct line of communication with important stakeholders who care and are invested in the social cause they serve. If you are running a nonprofit and are serious about reaching out to new supporters, Twitter can be a great avenue to gain traction. But before you jump on the Twitter train by opening an account for your organization, there are a few important points to consider.

Does Your Organization Really Need to Tweet?

In order to be effective, you will have to think strategically in terms of allocating scarce resources to get good bang for your buck on Twitter.

Twitter is an extremely interactive platform that requires very quick reaction times, so daily management is crucial. This means that in order to take full advantage of Twitter capabilities, you would need to allocate at least an hour a day to manage your Twitter account. If you think spending this much time would be a hassle, then maybe it’s not a good idea to open a Twitter account in the first place. Apart from that, it’s no secret that many nonprofit organizations have a limited budget to boost their social media posts or create ads. In other words, they often struggle to reach their target audiences on social media organically. So, in order to be effective, you will have to think strategically in terms of allocating scarce resources to get a good bang for your buck on Twitter.

Secondly, make sure you are aware of your target audiences’ interests. While Twitter has millions of users worldwide, the network focuses more on newsworthy information with limited reliance on multimedia content such as pictures, graphics, videos, and animations. This means you will have to work a little harder to engage your followers with the text content of a short ‘tweet’ that can contain only up to 280 characters or less. Moreover, Twitter will prove to be highly effective for your particular organization if your key audiences include journalists, thought leaders, or elected officials. These people love Twitter because they want to be in on the latest news and discussions happening around burning topics.

Lastly, it is very easy to find users on Twitter who take deep interest and care about the issues you are trying to address. However, Twitter is often a good fit for those nonprofit organizations that have a broader focus on larger societal or global issues, for example, climate change, human rights, or women empowerment. Similarly, it offers an interactive platform that attracts lively debates and discussions and is often the go-to source for news. For these reasons, advocacy-based organizations and research-based organizations do really well on Twitter. On the other hand, if you only intend to present and highlight the philanthropy activities you do in your local community, Twitter might not be the most useful platform for your organization.

Now that you have considered the above-mentioned points and are ready to open a Twitter account, let’s take a deeper look at five ways Twitter can help your nonprofit generate traction.

1. Take an active part in discussions

As you might already be aware, Twitter classifies tweets through the so-called #hashtags. When you visit Twitter, you see different hashtags trending which means a lot of people are using them in their tweets. Hashtags serve a simple but very important purpose; they make it very easy for users to join in on discussions by finding relevant tweets. As a nonprofit, you can use the power of hashtags to participate in the ongoing debates that are relevant to your cause. This way, you can show potential donors, supporters, and volunteers that you really care and want to be part of the change. To better engage your audiences, do some brainstorming first to determine your goals and decide on a hashtag that’s relevant to your particular organization and campaign. Remember, many people who will see your tweets may be unaware of your mission. So, use your time wisely by contributing something positive to the discussion with the aim to encourage others to retweet your posts or donate.

2. Share the latest information and news

Twitter can be a highly effective platform to cultivate interest and engage supporters, and foster thought leadership, in addition to building trust amongst stakeholders. But if you are new to Twitter, odds are you might feel pressured and overwhelmed. A good place to start is to share the latest newsworthy, relevant, and timely content with your Twitter audiences. According to some studies, around 56% of Twitter users get their news by using the platform. This percentage is much higher than any other social network. You can also share new developments taking place in your field. This is a great way to keep users up to the date in your area of work. Also make sure you post your own content, recent research findings, as well as your organization’s activities to educate your supporters about your specific cause. By undertaking these tasks on regular basis you show audiences that you are enthusiastic to learn and share new things. Besides, user responses generated from such engagements may give you many new and useful insights which could be employed to improve your project work.

3. Network with similar organizations

You don’t always need to post your own content to increase user engagement on your Twitter page. Instead, tweet anything interesting that resonates with the mission of your nonprofit. This will not only help validate your organization but also boost your online reputation since now you are a source for up-to-date and newsworthy happenings. Apart from that, sharing content is a great strategy to network with other similar or like-minded nonprofits on Twitter that share your passion. Maybe you can even find organizations that are currently working or have a desire to work in the same field or geographical area. It might be a worthwhile activity to share each other’s posts and find ways to support each other’s work. You can also explore possibilities for potential partnerships or collaborations in the future by networking with similar nonprofit organizations on Twitter.

4. Connect with potential donors and supporters

Twitter can be central to the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s online fundraising activities and social marketing campaigns. Twitter can be used to attract your target audiences, spread awareness, create volunteer opportunities, and drive qualified prospects to your marketing website quickly. From there you can easily convert followers to potential or actual donors. But keep in mind that Twitter is not a switch-on-and-succeed platform in any way. To achieve any meaningful success, your nonprofit needs to get many things right. For example, you will have to actively pursue donors, connect with them, tag them in your posts and build relationships based on mutual trust. When you follow a donor on Twitter, show them that you are interested in their work by retweeting, commenting, or sending direct messages. It takes more time and effort but eventually you will have a better chance of having the first foot in the door when you approach donors for support in the future.

5. Become part of a movement

Since its inception in 2006, Twitter has played a major role in the emergence of ‘hashtag activism’ and the success of many famous movements such as #metoo, #HeforShe, and #BlackLivesMatter. As a nonprofit, you can also leverage the platform to become part of a bigger movement that is relevant to your cause. By doing so, your nonprofit can gain wider attention which can lead to new connections and potential partnerships. But before you decide to go that route, make sure your goals and values are fully aligned with the objectives of your chosen movement. For a start, only join the discussion and use a popular hashtag if you have something positive to contribute. There are many instances of brands that failed spectacularly while trying to get publicity by using a trending hashtag. So make sure to do your homework before you really get into the foray.

Final Thoughts

The old saying “if you build it, they will come” has become largely irrelevant in the age of social media. To gain traction in the online world, every type of organization whether corporate or nonprofit, needs a clear vision, careful planning, and resources. Twitter is a perfect place for your nonprofit to grow its audience, cultivate engagement with supporters, and advocate for relevant issues. To succeed at Twitter, a solid profile of your nonprofit that is inviting and drives people to engage and interact with your organization is the way to go. However, don’t forget to assess your performance, note your mistakes, and make adequate changes as you progress. It will always be a #workinprogress.

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