Twitter is a great free tool. And in a time of economic uncertainty, a free tool is a welcome help!
Twitter is called “microblogging.” You get 140 characters to get your message across.
140 characters to answer the question on the Twitter home page: “What are you doing now?” When you first start to tweet, it feels really odd. Why would you share what your eating? And why would anyone care?
But people do. And the conversations get even better when you start answering the question “What are you focusing on?”
People use Twitter to ask questions, follow people that are interesting, promote links to various websites, share news stories.
There are links to Twitter guides below that can give you more nitty-gritty on using Twitter. They’ll tell you what to do and what not to do.
But from a fundraising perspective, Twitter is an amazing way to engage donors and potential donors. One of the hardest things to do as a fundraiser is to maintain relationships. Twitter allows you to do that…right in the midst of your normal every day routine.
- You get to meet people all over the world that might be interested in your cause.
- You get to hear what people are really thinking about a wide variety of issues.
- You can follow other fundraisers and get great real-time advice.
- You can even promote traffic to your website or those of your friends.
Better still, if you can make your comments effectively understood in 140 characters, think about how all your fundraising writing will improve!
Twitter is definitely not just a tool to push your message. It’s got to be a two-way conversation. Last month, BusinessWeek had a great article on Twitter. In it they said:
Amy Worley, who manages [H&R] Block’s Twitter program, had to alter her approach. “I went in thinking Twitter was a free way to push our message out,” she says. “Big mistake. We learned to listen. We started winning once we let people decide on their own about our services.”
Why not test it out? Check out my Twitter stream right now by going to http://twitter.com/marcapitman. And follow me if you choose to create an account!
Here are some more blog posts on Twitter:
- Chris Brogan’s Newbies Guide to Twitter [he’s @chrisbrogan on Twitter]
- Chris Brogan’s Twitter Revisited
- Beth Kanter’s Twitter for Nonprofits: Waste of Time or Potentially Useful? [she’s @kanter on Twitter]
- Beth Kanter’s The Nonprofit Twitter Pack
- I also have a more complete article here on Twitter for Nonprofits & Fundraising
And here are some that other folks on Twitter recommended when I asked:
- 10 tools that will make you a Twitter power user
- 12 ways to use Twitter to increase your productivity
- Big Juicy Twitter Guide
- Eight Ways Twitter is Useful Professionally
[Update: I’ve since written two more posts on Twitter and nonprofits. They’re not so creatively called: More Twitter for Nonprofits and Even MORE Twitter for Nonprofits.]
Excellent summary for non-profits interested in Twitter. I especially am a fan of Chris and Beth.
I am afraid a lot of non-profits are looking at Twitter and other social media as the next “silver bullet” in fundraising. The best and most cost-effective way to raise money, big money, is still to sit down face to face with prospects to introduce them to your non-profit, listen to their interests and concerns and ask them directly for a gift.
Sue, thanks for your comment. (Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply!)
I totally agree with you. My entire blog is geared to helping people raise money face-to-face. To “ask without fear.”
Personally, I think that the real success nonprofits will experience with social media will come from the ways our donors and fans use it.
All the more reason for us to be well versed in these tools!