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9 Tips for Using Twitter to Build Your Nonprofit Network

9 Tips for Using Twitter to Build Your Nonprofit Network

November 30, 2010

Twitter, so big and so influential, yet so intimidating for many non-profit organizations. So instead, non-profits choose to stay out of the world of hashtags and 140 character limits and instead choose to continue using the same traditional marketing channels to fight for awareness and donor engagement in the oh so competitive non-profit space.

As Rosetta Thurman of the Young Non-profit Professionals Network puts it, “A lot of nonprofit folks are still skeptical about why they should be on Twitter.” So of course, we were quite happy to read her tips for using Twitter to effectively build, create, and expand a non-profit’s network.

By the way, join other non-profit organizations on Monday, December 6th for the non-profit marketing bootcamp themed “Strategically Planning for Success in 2011.”


Use your real name as your username. Ever heard the saying that people give to people? Well, it’s true and more of a reason to use your real name as your Twitter username. Besides, using your real name makes it easier to associate that name with the particular value and expertise you bring online. You can even use a combination of your industry and your name, such as @nonprofitnicole. Right away, you know she works in nonprofits and her name is Nicole. Brilliant. (And yes, if you’re using a weird username right now, you can go ahead and change it without losing followers. Go here to learn how.)

Upload a great photo. Your Twitter profile picture should ideally be a photo of your face. Smiling. Why? Because it’s easier for people to build a personal relationship with you when they can actually see who you are instead of having to look at your organization’s logo.

Fill out your profile completely. Take a moment to tell people about yourself! Enter a brief profile that describes who you are and what you do. And, this is a biggie: don’t forget to enter the url for a web site people can visit to learn more about you. Empty urls on Twitter are a missed opportunity to allow people to find commonalities with your work.

Follow other nonprofit leaders. People always ask me how I got so many followers and my best answer is that I followed A LOT of people! I’m following almost as many people as are following me. Which should tell you that most of the people you follow will also follow you back. If you don’t know who to connect with in the nonprofit Twitter world just yet, here’s a list of the top 30 nonprofit news sources and thought leaders on Twitter to jumpstart your following.

Talk to people. That’s right, the best way to get to know your newfound Twitter followers is to @ reply them and say something! You can respond to one of their tweets or ask them a question about their work or simply reply to one of their posts.

Tweet often. No one likes following or @ replying a person who only comes on Twitter once a month. A good rule of thumb is to tweet a few times a day, with a mix of personal and professional updates. Also, make sure you respond to as many of your @ replies as possible. Be an active part of the community and people will consider you a resource!

Use hashtags. When you post an update or link on Twitter, you can make sure it reaches more people in your network by using relevant hashtags like #nonprofit or #philanthropy. People will take notice of your interests and begin to connect with you on that basis.

Participate in Twitter chats. A great way to engage in productive conversations with your Twitter network is to be active in the Twitter chats that are relevant to your work or interest area. Here’s a huge list of almost 250 Twitter chats to get you started! Surely, there’s at least one on the list that can connect you to some great people in your field.

Meet your followers in person. Often, you’ll meet people on Twitter that live or work near you. Or, you both may be in the same town for a nonprofit conference. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your Twitter peeps for a cup of coffee or lunch if you’re in the same vicinity! It’s really the best way to turn online connections into offline relationships.

(Excerpt from http://www.rosettathurman.com/2010/11/9-tips-for-using-twitter-to-build-your-nonprofit-network)

Register for the Non-profit Marketing Bootcamp: “Strategically Planning for Success in 2011″

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