I’m a Fundraiser…& I’m Following My Plan to Twitter Domination
Ok, not Lady Gaga type domination but I believe that nonprofits- especially small ones with limited/no budget- need a plan. So here’s what I did.
First, I did NOT heed the advice of “social media gurus” to just jump in and take part. Look, you don’t just pick up a chainsaw and start chopping down trees! I’m pretty sure you’ll read the owner’s manual first.
Here’s where it gets interesting: there ISN’T an owner’s manual for Twitter! But that doesn’t mean a little research wouldn’t help.
My first Twitter foray was for a small nonprofit in Israel that deals with the digital gap (the divide between those with access to technology and those without). Prior to opening the account, I read tens of articles about Twitter, watched YouTube videos on how to open and manage an account. Then I opened the account and…observed.
Aside: Many nonprofit CEO’s want their workers/volunteers to start tweeting right away about their projects, programs and tweet links to the organization’s Donate Now page. Ummmm…this doesn’t work! There are a million nonprofits on Twitter all tweeting about their programs- too much noise, few people following. See below for a solution.
And now back to our regularly scheduled post…
I have successfully managed both a nonprofit and a personal account. Here are my simple tips to help your nonprofit achieve Twitter success:
1) Research: Search and see who’s out there in your field. When I tweeted for the nonprofit, I searched for other orgs. who dealt with the digital gap. I ended up following, engaging and sharing info with NPO’s in Australia, Canada, UK, Philippines, Africa, Cambodia, the US and more countries. I saw the programs they were running and we shared best practices to help improve our individual orgs.
2) Make a list: Before I started tweeting from my personal account, I made a list of 100 people I wanted to follow and engage. My secondary goal was to see who they were following and thus find more people to learn from. Mission accomplished: I followed all 100 people (25 at a time) and now follow over 400 Twitter accounts.
3) The sidelines: I followed accounts and then I observed. I learned the Twanguage (RT, DM, word abbreviations and the most important- how to make a smiley face). I watched how the people I followed conversed and interacted with their followers.
4) Set some modest goals: When I started tweeting from my personal account, I set two goals:
- To tweet 120 times per week
- Gain 25 new followers each week
No- you don’t control how many followers you’ll get. But I reasoned that followers would start to come because I was tweeting quality links, ideas and more. And they did.
BIG HUGE NOTE: Numbers do NOT matter. I know that you- and you and you- work for a nonprofit and your boss isn’t happy because you don’t have 1000+ followers. Guess what? Out of my nearly 600 followers, I have a core of roughly 30 who retweet my tweets and engage me almost daily on Twitter. Those are the ones your org. needs to nurture and strengthen the relationship with because they are spreading your message to their followers.
5) Tweet early & tweet often- I am currently sending out approx. 500 tweets per week- that’s a lot! Unless you’re a full-time community manager, you will not be tweeting anywhere near that often. But it is imperative that you decide in advance that you will tweet new material at least three-five times daily and allow time to respond to tweets mentioning your name/engage followers. Look folks- you can’t be in the game while standing on the sidelines.
6) Hook em: I mentioned earlier that few people want to read about your nonprofit’s activities. Just the way it is. But what if you tweeted mostly about the subject matter? For example: When I tweeted for the org., I tweeted about the digital gaps in Israel and around the world- and the social issues that causes. I hoarded articles about the topic and always had handy the latest stats (thank you Google Reader). After a short time, people would start following me and asking me for stats and subject matter- the eventual goal was for this particular account to become THE source for digital gap info on Twitter. Why can’t your org do the same?
And here’s the best part: Once you become known as an expert, you can tweet (every now and then) about your orgs. programs you run and expose your followers to the wonderful work you are doing. Because you never know where the next donor will come from…
7) Personality: This to me is unbelievably important. Not all tweets from my personal account relate to the main subject matter (fundraising). I love engaging people on all kinds of different subjects, especially when it comes to anything 80′s. My followers (or so they’ve told me) love that stuff because it puts a HUMAN face on the account. Be funny, be cool, be engaging. Just stay away from politics: no one ever wins those arguments and it tends to drive people away.
8) Do your thing: When I started tweeting, I decided to tweet daily a “fundraisin idea of the day.” Since then I’ve added a “nonprofit of the day” tweet and on Fridays, when everyone is sending out FF’s (Follow Friday- mentioning who they think others should follow), I send out FFY. The “Y” is for the word “why”- I explain why I follow certain people. It’s a way to compliment my followers and gives insight into why following these people would be a good idea.
9) Get married: I think I’ve used the word “engage” a bazillion times in this article. Truth is: that’s what Twitter is- one big engage-a-thon. The more you engage, the more people pay attention to you. The more people pay attention to you, the more followers you’ll get. The more followers you’ll get, the greater the potential of finding a volunteer or donor…and of course, the CEO will be happy.
None of this happens overnight. It takes time, patience and perseverance to gain a critical mass of followers. But it definitely pays off- no doubt about it.
Here’s part II which discusses my typical day on Twitter- and what small nonprofits can learn from it.