October 3, 2011

24 best practices for nonprofits using Twitter

Twitter best practices
Image by Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr

Use this guide to take stock of your organization’s Twitter routine

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, businesses, brands, bloggers, social media managers, individuals.

This is part of our series on how nonprofits can get the most out of Twitter. Please check back weekly for the next installment.

By Kyria Abrahams and J.D. Lasica
Socialbrite staff

There are scads of Twitter guides, cheat sheets and how-tos floating around the Web. However, too often we see experts being clinical, detached and almost mathematical in trying to dissect an otherwise fun and useful social medium.

twitter-essentialsActually, Twitter is not that complicated. And unless you’re Anthony Weiner, your job most likely does not hang on a single tweet. In fact, Twitter is especially suited to nonprofits because it allows your organization the freedom to spotlight a broad range of issues and newsworthy items that relate to your cause.

Below we’ll outline some basic practices about how to use Twitter, especially if you’re just getting started with the platform. If you’re an old hat at it, think of this as a little refresher course for your daily Twitter practice.

Here are 24 basic best practices with Twitter that every nonprofit should know.

Don’t overcomplicate Twitter

1Be honest, be real, be human. Don’t be the guy at the party with a set of “emergency” conversation starters on index cards. Don’t overthink your Twitter entries. Use your own voice, not a detached, institutional one.

Tweet about things people care about

2Link to newsworthy events that people are already talking about and how they relate to your cause. Remember, no one outside of your organization cares who your executive director shook hands with today. Link to interesting items about your partners or sector.

Tweet in the moment

3Are you at a gala event and your senator or governor just walked in? Don’t be afraid to live tweet as it’s happening.

Follow the 60-30-10 rule

4That’s 60% retweets and pointers to promote items from other users or sites, 30% conversation and responses, 10% announcements and events. If all you ever talk about is you, no one is going to pay attention after a while.

Be strategic

5Follow and schmooze with influencers in your sector. Use search.twitter.com’s Advanced search link to find people in your sector or geographic region. Use tools like Klout, SocialMention, PeopleBrowsr (including its new Kred) and Twitter Lists to find them and make sure you engage before you ask for anything.

Be supportive

6Follow like-minded users and engage with them. Retweet liberally. Link to interesting news stories about your partners or sector.

Optimize your keywords

7Make sure that people can find you in a search. Your profile should contain the name of your organization, relevant keywords and a url to your site or blog.

Personalize your page

8Upload your organization’s logo as an icon, or you may want individual staffers to use their own thumbnail images. Don’t use a standard Twitter background (click the “Change background image” link under the Design tab of your profile). Adjust background and text colors. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t make your account private. Continue reading

September 26, 2011

8 nonprofit Twitter superstars

Twitter superstar
Photo by Karola Riegler Photography on Flickr

Experiment with the approaches below to see which works best for you

Target audience:Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, bloggers, social media managers.

This is the first in our new series of articles on how nonprofits can get the most out of Twitter.

By Kyria Abrahams
Socialbrite staff

kyria-abrahamsWe’re kicking off our new series on how nonprofits can make the best use of Twitter with a roundup of organizations that showcase a strong voice in the community. Below are eight popular nonprofits on Twitter today as well as an overview of their varying styles and strategies.

These organizations are successfully using the following approaches. They:


  • Support other nonprofit Twitter users with Follow Friday.
  • Retweet others.
  • Quote well-known and well-respected voices.
  • Write concise “teaser-style” tweets that link back to their main website.
  • Make ample use of hashtags or create their own.
  • Ask questions that engage their followers.
  • Use human interest stories.
  • Respond to tweets that mention their organization.

charity: water

1With 1.3 million followers, charity: water is the first Twitter result when using the search term “nonprofit.” The organization’s focus is clear and so are their tweets, many of which focus on celebrating individual supporters, small donors and partners. Tweets feature a compelling teaser, which links back to their website.

Sample Tweet from Charity Water

The Gates Foundation

2The Gates Foundation makes ample use of hashtags and actively participates in “Follow Friday” (hashtag: #FF), a practice which builds a sense of community around their cause and can be seen as a type of online partnering. They utilize a “Photo of the Day” that links back to their site, a tactic which is also used by Charity Water. If anyone has ideas on properly using Twitter, it’s probably Bill Gates.

Sample Tweet for Gates Foundation

The Humane Society

3The Humane Society originated the popular hashtag #FelineFriday, which encourages people to post photos of their cats. The tag is so popular that I sent them a tweet asking if they had come up with the concept. They replied to me within two days, which means that they’ve also got a crack team checking on all their @replies — another big plus!

 Sample Tweet from Humane Society Continue reading