Why should you bother using Twitter in nonprofit communications?

Posted by Corie Farnsley on August 1, 2018

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I’ll admit: I have historically had a love-hate relationship with Twitter.

I signed up in 2008, and I occasionally enjoyed perusing my feed for interesting things to read in my free time. But for a long time, it just seemed like a waste of time. 

I could get the news I wanted to read from Apple News or 100 other sources. 

I could get personal updates from my friends on Facebook. 

I could see photos of people who interest me on Instagram. 

And no one was reading the few tweets I posted, anyway.*

* Right off the bat, know that you must tweet regularly if you expect to have a Twitter following and impact. Keep that in mind as you begin thinking about using Twitter as an effective communications tool.

What, then, was the point of Twitter?

Over time, I began to understand the answer. Social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, in his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, says: 

“If Facebook’s main currency is friendship, Twitter’s is news and information.”

But if you’re just consuming news and information, especially as an organization or brand, you’re missing the point. What makes Twitter unique and powerful is the context you can bring to the content you’re sharing.

“On this (social media) platform, and this platform alone, content often has far less value than context,” says Vaynerchuk. “A brand’s success on Twitter is rarely predicated on the actual content it produces. Rather, it correlates with how much valuable context you add to the content — your own, and that produced by others.”

We’ll explain more in a minute.

What is the point of using Twitter?

As a nonprofit organization on Twitter, you have the opportunity to wrap the cultural conversation about the cause you support around your own organization. 

When you share content you’ve created or content you’ve found in other reputable sources, and you add a comment about your own experience, you’re stepping into the conversation in a public space with 335 million monthly users. You become part of the larger narrative around your cause. 

For example, when Erin Macey from Indiana Institute for Working Families posted this tweet about payday loans…

…she:

  • jumped into a national conversation about a topic her organization cares deeply about, using hashtags #payday and #StopTheDebtTrap.
  • published information to any person with a Twitter account who either follows her or has an interest in paydays, payday loans and debt traps. Anyone can search Twitter with one of those words and find her tweet with related hashtags.
  • added facts from her work to support the story, using an infographic and statistics.
  • added context to the story, comparing payday loans with felony criminal loansharking.

Perfect!

The time it took for Macey to put together this tweet was minimal compared with the value it could bring her and her organization. Who knows who might read (or better yet, retweet) this information and be moved to act in some way?

It’s very possible that a personal-finance, economy or legislative-action reporter would see her post. (Journalists are generally known to frequent Twitter.) The reporter might see the post, check out her profile and become interested in her perspective. He might then contact her for inclusion in a report for a major television news broadcast, magazine or online news site.

And that’s just one example.

It’s time to stop ignoring Twitter and jump into the conversation.

Yes, there are several other social media channels you could (and should) be using to tell the story of your nonprofit. And no, you can’t spend hours of your day on social media. But we recommend adding Twitter to your social strategy, because it is arguably one of the best uses of your time when it comes to being social on behalf of your organization.

We have so much more to say about Twitter — much more than would be logical to include in your average blog post. So we've created a FREE 24-page e-book that answers these and other questions:

Simply request the FREE e-book, and you can download it right away. Finish reading now, or save it for the train commute or lunchtime reading.

And of course, if you need help creating or implementing a Twitter strategy, you know where to find us. (But we recommend you download the e-book first.)

Topics: social media marketing, communications, social media, nonprofit, Twitter

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