It's no secret that I love Twitter.

Here are five tips to help you make better use of Twitter.

  1. Be human and interesting

    One of the worst things you can do as a fundraiser on Twitter is broadcast about your cause all day long. This will bore people. Social media is social. So be a human. And be interesting. Tasteful. But interesting. Feel free to tweet about things you're reading. And retweet things you see that strike you as interesting.

  2. Upload your picture and fill out your bio

    One of the easiest ways to be "human" on Twitter is to upload a picture of yourself in your Twitter settings. The image is small so headshots work best. And use all 160 characters of the bio line. Make sure to have strong keywords, both professional and personal. See mine at http://twitter.com/marcapitman. While you're updating your profile, be sure to mention your location.

  3. Try participating in twitter chats

    Twitter chats can be a fun way to meet people with similar interests. There's a Google Doc that's trying to be a Twitter Chat Schedule. Look to see if there are any interesting topics. With over 350 chats, there's bound to be one or two!

    Twitter chats use "hashtags" to make them easier to follow. Hashtags are labels using the # sign. When you search on them, you find the related tweets. A common twitter chat happens every Sunday evening. It's hashtag is #blogchat.

    Twitter chats move very quickly and can be hard to follow. I like using Tweetgrid.com. This simple format allows you to follow up to 9 conversations, although I find 1X3 to be the most I can handle. Other people rave about TweetChat.com.

  4. Using a tool like HootSuite

    It can be pretty overwhelming to be following your Twitter stream, following Twitter chats, keeping track of pending tweets, oy! I find it very helpful to use HootSuite [affiliate link]. You can use it free but if you have multiple Twitter accounts, it's worth investing in the paid version. I like that I can use it from the web, my iPad, and even my Android phone.

    Other similar tools are TweetDeck and Pluggio [affiliate link]. Find the one you like, but make sure it can work with your team.

  5. Ask for the gift...but not often

    To use Twitter as a fundraiser, you will want to ask for donations. So far, the best way to do that is sending people to your website. Studies show that people make bigger donations on your organization's website than they do on other platforms. They may give $5 or $10 on other platforms but $125 on your site.

    Don't ask often. And if you have guts, retweet asks from other organizations similar to your cause. When you ask, try to keep it to 120 characters or less. This will allow your tweet to be "retweeted," or passed on, by others. To do that, you can use link shorteners like Bit.ly or HootSuite's built in shortener "Ow.ly." An added benefit of using these is that you can measure how many clicks you get and track who retweets your tweet.

Use these tips, and you'll be on your way to effectively using Twitter for your nonprofit fundraising!

While you're at it, feel free to follow me at @marcapitman.

What would you add to this list?

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