There’s been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere this week about the value of Twitter, mostly in the for-profit world. We’ve talked with a lot of nonprofit professionals about Twitter and the overwhelming consensus in the nonprofit world (at least in Indy) is somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Twitter–although I think most of the haters have stemmed from a lack of knowledge of understanding about the tool.
Let me preface this entire entry by saying that it is crucial that your organization has a social media marketing plan and that any and all forms of social media that you use need to fit your goals and objectives. If you don’t have a plan yet, do it now.
The nonprofit professionals we’ve chatted with seem to have a strong affinity for and understanding of Facebook. This isn’t surprising–Facebook has less of a learning curve and you can have an effective presence with minimal effort. Facebook is great for nonprofits because it allows us to interact and converse with constituents–employees, donors, volunteers, board members, clients, etc–in a real and genuine way. We can share information and stories. give props to awesome people, and highlight other organizations that are doing great work. Facebook is a good fit for almost any nonprofit.
So how should nonprofits utilize Twitter? Twitter allows nonprofits some of the same functionality as Facebook–sharing info, giving props, etc., but Twitter is only as effective as you make it. Twitter requires a decent amount of thought and dedication because Twitter is ALL about the conversation. It takes time to stay connected and to provide relevant and meaningful information to your followers.
Here’s where nonprofits can really benefit from a strong Twitter presence: it’s a fantastic way for us to network as organizations–as a community of nonprofits. Nonprofits should be all about collaboration, but many times we want to silo ourselves into specific categories because we want to seem difference and unique. The thing is, we’re all working to make the community better. Doesn’t matter if your organization works with kids, adults, families, neighborhoods–everyone is trying to make a positive impact and improve the community. So why not share?
If you want to share your work and highlight and celebrate the work of others, Twitter is the place to be. By sharing relevant information, following other organizations, and retweeting their info, we are creating a network of nonprofits who are supporting and learning from one another. We are creating a space where nonprofits can connect and collaborate, and where constituents can plug into the conversation.
My advice is this–don’t leave Twitter out just because you don’t use it personally or you don’t want to take the time learn how to use it effectively. Take the time to evaluate whether or not it fits into your social media goals and take the time to learn more about the tool. Don’t miss out on the conversation.
If you want more information about using social media effectively in your nonprofit (and you live in the Indianapolis area), please join us on Friday, April 1 at 9 a.m. at the English Foundation Building for Social Media 201. We’ll be talking strategy and planning. Email email@example.com to RSVP or for more information.