One Key to a Successful Nonprofit Social Media Strategy
Twitter celebrated its 6th birthday on the first day of spring, 2012. A year for Twitter must be like a “dog year”, because with over 500 million users, it is already the largest one-to-many open communication platform on the web. That’s BIG business.
As Twitter has matured, it’s a great time to consider ways to make it an effective part of your branding and consumer engagement/customer experience strategy. If you’ve been using Twitter since its inception, now is the time to take stock of what is working/not working for you. If you’re a Johnny-come-lately to the Twitterverse, now is a the time to take a moment to understand what all the hullabaloo is about.
Certainly Twitter is not what David Letterman said to Justin Bieber in the Green Room a year ago: Do you use the Twitter device?
The Twitter device? Well… perhaps it actually is a device. While not a machine, it certainly is a purposeful tool. Twitter today has become as basic as email to communicating with our constituents and staying on top of events locally and around the globe. By “following” groups or individuals, Twitter users have access to crucial information. It could be about a Tsunami. It could also be about product discounts, tickets to our events, celebrities showing up at our site, or businesses offering to provide an incentive or donation for everyone who tweets a particular message to their friends.
Twitter is a medium that enables us to message our constituents quickly and directly. And it helps us disseminate information well beyond our known universe of supporters. It is particularly attractive to activists and influencers, meaning we should seek to identify these folks in our areas of endeavor. Once we know who they are, we can target them to help our information “go viral.”
Many in business were slow to take Twitter seriously, since it began as something folks used to tell their friends what they were eating for breakfast (!). Today a vast number of Twitter users choose to use the social network to consume information, rather than share it. Increasingly, Twitter looks to be a place where businesses – for profit and nonprofit alike – should be messaging folks with relevant content and engaging them in conversation.
Let’s look at a few examples of ways to avoid common twitter mistakes and make Twitter a successful strategy for your organization.
- Include a compelling description of your work to accompany your Twitter handle. You must be brief, so pick the heart of what may matter to your constituents. For a great example, check out @SFFoodBank. You’ll notice they also tweet with relevant content that would be interesting to their volunteers and donors. They let folks know when new food has come into the warehouse, when followers can help to leverage a donation, when a newsletter has just been published, and when a volunteer shared a great photo of a team helping package food for distribution. They also respond directly to their constituents via Twitter and they sometimes retweet their fans’ posts. It’s inspiring, engaging and customer centric, plus it helps to build the brand.
- Put a human face on your Tweets. Social media was created with individuals in mind. Businesses aren’t social; people are. So, if tweets are coming from your business profile you’ll want to humanize them in some way. One way is to include photos of the persons on your staff who are tweeting (or have the tweeters sign their name or initials at the end of the tweet). Another way is to ask key staff to tweet from their personal accounts (it’s advisable that folks set up a separate account from their ‘regular’ personal account; pick a new handle for work purposes so you can lose this account (or transfer to someone else) when the employee is no longer with the organization.
- Showcase your products and services. Since you can attach shortened links to blog posts, URLs, Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, etc., there’s no need to hide your light under a bushel. It’s easy to share compelling photos and descriptions of what you offer. An awesome (and ahh-some) example is San Francisco SPCA which even allows you to click on a photo directly from their Twitter page.
- Honor your followers. Again, social media is meant to be social. If folks are tweeting to you or about you it’s common courtesy to acknowledge them. You certainly don’t have to follow them all back, but you should assess whether they’re influencers in your field. If so, then by all means add them to your followers lists. You are allowed to create 20 lists, each with 500 members. I have lists for “Fundraising Thinkers”, “Tekkies”, “Social Media Strategists”, “Content Marketers”, etc. You can keep the lists private or public. If you do the latter, be sure to name the list in a way that would make those who are included feel proud to be on the list. Once they are on your list, you can easily monitor their conversations and look for a chance to engage with them. You want to display a willingness to be social, and these influencers can be a great resource for sourcing relevant content and helping to get your message out.
- Respond to folks who message you, especially if they complain. In Replies Can Change Customer Minds neuromarketing author Roger Dooley describes how well social media like Twitter lends itself to turning unhappy campers into happy ones. Take a look at how masterfully Dunkin’ Donuts uses Twitter for customer service.
- Develop a Twitter content strategy so you’re tweeting strategically. Like any messaging strategy, Twitter should be executed thoughtfully. Content is king and people will discern what type of content king you are. Don’t be vapid. Make your tweets count or folks will stop coming back.
- Keep your eye out for Twitter Brand Pages. These are making headlines in the U.K, were made available to 21 U.S. businesses in December and should be available to everyone some time this year. Offering more than just a handle description, your Twitter brand page will become a complete profile for your business. You can upload an attractive header, showcase images and videos and even ‘pin’ a particular tweet to the top of your page. It is likely they will include experience apps, like those developed on Facebook, and should help brands increase user engagement.
It’s time to give Twitter a more prominent role in your social strategy. Don’t be a Twit.