Twitter for Nonprofits

Top 10 Twitter To Do’s for Nonprofits

Julia Claire Campbell Nonprofits, Social Media, Twitter 66 Comments

Twitter for NonprofitsDespite having 600 million active Twitter users with over 135,000 more joining the party every day, nonprofits have been slow to get on the Twitter train.

If they are using Twitter, it’s often in fits and starts, with no clear strategy and very little consistency.

Twitter can be overwhelming, especially for social media newbies. But it is a valuable tool for connecting with supporters, donors and community members – one tool that shouldn’t be overlooked as you expand your nonprofit marketing tool box.

(NOTE: As with any new social media tool, don’t dive in until you are sure that it fits with your overall marketing strategy.)

Why use it? I’ll refer to Duct Tape Marketing founder John Jantsch, who says:

—  “I get great insight when I ask questions;

—  I get (website) traffic;

—  People on Twitter spread my thoughts to new places.”

So where to start, and how to build up a dedicated following and robust presence on the #2 social network?

Here are my Top 10 Twitter To Do’s for Nonprofits:

1)     Fill out the Bio section completely. That means uploading an avatar image – a square image that is not a cut off version of your horizontal logo. When your tweets show up in your followers’ Twitter feed, they will recognize you first by your avatar/profile photo. So pick a good one.

This is how people will find you on Twitter and also how they will determine if they want to follow you – choosing the right wording is extremely important. It is also a great idea to add a website (check the link), a location and a Bio Header photo (see #2). Complete profiles get three times as many followers as incomplete profiles.

2)     Use Twitter’s visual real estate. You have three places to upload great photos – your Bio image, the Header and the Background. While text in the Background image can’t be hyperlinked, it remains a great place to tell your nonprofit story and feature the people that you impact every day.

You can use PowerPoint, Adobe PhotoShop, PicMonkey, Canva to create your own images, or hire a graphic designer to do it for you. HubSpot created The Free Ultimate Guide for Social Media Image Dimensions infographic for your reference.

Examples of nonprofits that use their Twitter visual real estate well: @NothingButNets, @RoomToRead, @DoSomething

3)     Research hashtags. Go to to find out what hashtags and topics are trending in your industry or in topics relating to your cause. You may think that #endfur is a great hashtag, but if everyone is using #stopfur, then you will missing a chance for exposure.

For a great primer on how nonprofits can use hashtags to maximize impact, read this article from Giving Something.

4)     Follow more people. Love it or hate it, a 100% effective way to grow your own following on Twitter is to connect with others. You aren’t Conan O’Brien (who only follows one person).

Keep in mind that you do not have to follow everyone who follows you, but you do have to constantly be looking out for new strategic contacts. Use the #Discover tab and click on “Who to follow”. You can also search for people to follow using the Search bar and typing in relevant hashtags.

A great article on finding relevant people to follow on Twitter is here, by Search Engine Land.

5)     Experiment with Promoted Tweets. Nonprofits are extremely averse to paying for anything, let alone things that are “supposed” to be free, like social media. While I understand this tendency, statistics are showing that Promoted Tweets are outperforming regular tweets.

If you have a special event or an important announcement, consider trying a Promoted Tweet with a limited budget. For more ways to use them, check out this post from WikiHow.

6)     Tweet photos. Pictures are 36% of all shared links on Twitter. Videos work great too!

7)     Be timely. Twitter is all about timing. You cannot tweet about something that happened yesterday as if it’s happening now. People are searching Twitter for news that is of the moment.

Twitter users are always hungry for relevant, timely links to good information. Stay on top of trends (but don’t go totally off brand). For example, it might be tempting to include the top trending hashtag in your tweet (#bieberfever anyone?) to get more exposure, but it will come off as spammy and disingenuous.

8)     Acknowledge your Twitter followers. For goodness sake, thank people who follow you, retweet you and share your information. Reply to them and tell them that they are awesome. Post a smiley face or a brief thank you video from Vine.

Twitter is not a one way street or a broadcast service (although some users use it as such).

9)     Use Twitter Advanced Search. You can use Advanced Search to better target followers in your locality or region. This is helpful when looking for influential local people to follow, when researching potential strategic partnerships or prospecting local businesses for sponsorships.

10)  Try a contest! Everyone loves a contest, and contests are proven to increase engagement and interaction. Examples of great Twitter contests are in these articles from Maximize Social Business and Jeff Bullas.

How does your nonprofit use Twitter? Are you a Twitter skeptic or a believer? Let us know!

LEARN: Digital and Social Media Strategies

Comments 66

  1. fredc

    Thanks…some good tips! Still figuring out how to segment time for these items that must be fed daily.

    1. Post
      1. fredc

        Thanks, I will look into that (over the weekend of course since we have no time during the week)

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