Nonprofits Delving Into the World of Twitter

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Karl Hedstrom

For those lucky people who live in San Francisco, the next Net Tuesday is about Twitter and Nonprofits. The speakers are Nate Ritter, talking about how he used Twitter as a help center during the San Diego fires, and Jeremy Pepper, the Director of Communications of the Point.


There has been an amazing conversation about twitter on the social web over the past couple of days. It prompted me to wonder, "What are the six signs that Twitter isn't for your Nonprofit?" I wasn't asking to be a naysayer or cranky, but because I've submerged too much into Twitter culture and needed the view from the nonprofit office eye level. I got some terrific ideas in the comments, especially these pithy points from Pistachio.

DO NOT engage with Twitter if you don't want to invest time, attention and resources in making real connections there.

DO NOT encourage your staff to Twitter if you don't want them to share information quickly, connect to one another more deeply, and discuss your nonprofits work with the broader public.

DO NOT even try it unless you are open to serendipitous returns. If you establish rigid goals and "pursue" them with Twitter, you may as well just flush the toilet. Be open to spontaneity. Go with the flow.

DO NOT approach Twitter with the aim of accumulating and controlling an audience.

DO NOT mistake Twitter for software.

DO NOT Twitter without love.

Sue Waters and I batted around some ideas in the comments and she pointed me over to her "How To Get My Twitter Magic Back" where she asked for help from readers. She got incredibly useful feedback about Twitter use processes and how to make efficient and effective depending on your goals. These two posts are brilliant and have lots of valuable advice on best practices.

Twitter, What's Twitter?

When I teach workshops, I start with a pop quiz to get a sense of who is in the room and what they know. A year ago, when I asked "Twitter?" no one would raise their hand. Last March, after SWSX, maybe 1/5 of the room would raise their hands. Now, depending on the location, I often see as many as half the room.

Twitter Life Cycle by CogdogBlog (Essay here)

So, if you need some good primers on Twitter, here's a reflection I wrote back in March that includes some pointers to basic introductions. Or maybe you would like a collection of stories about how Twitter has been used for network collaboration. Nancy White has collected them here. Or check out Twitterstories.

Delving to the World of Twitter

Beth Dunn, who also commented, when back wrote a post about the human face of Twitter. Chris Brogan mentioned in the comments

I quite agree. Twitter has put quite a human face on the web, and I'm grateful for that. Hard to explain to people still struggling with using it or not, but I'm happy as hell to have found it, and glad that you're part of the story. : )

Beth reminded me of a quote from Jeremiah Owyang, "The Tools Come and Go, but Strategy Sustains." We brainstormed an adoption progression - in the abstract.

Is your organization planning to explore Twitter? How might you use it? Or, if your organization is already participating in the Twitter community, what have you learned?