Proper Nonprofit Twitter Etiquette

Are you representing your nonprofit organization on Twitter? Are you trying to use Twitter to get the name of your organization out there and possibly get new donors? If so, you had better listen up, and fast. There are a couple of things you should know before you start to make enemies on Twitter. You might call these the rules of the road. While it’s good advice for anyone looking to make new contacts, it’s particularly important for nonprofits.

  1. Follow people who follow you- This is one of the dumbest mistakes I see people making with Twitter charity profiles. My username on Twitter is “PhilanthropyCFP”. If you are a nonprofit, why wouldn’t you follow back someone with the word “Philanthropy” in their name? That’s just dumb. If your objective is to recruit people to follow your cause, the first rule is to follow them back. There are no exceptions to this rule in my opinion. If you don’t follow someone who has expressed an interest in your charity profile, not only will they likely be upset because you weren’t interested enough to follow them back, but they will find another charity who is “interested in them”. This is dumb. Don’t make that mistake. I can’t tell you how many nonprofits I have unfollowed because they didn’t follow me back. While I’m not making myself out to be anyone “important” here, the bottom line is that it is a lost opportunity. We’re in the same industry, yet for some reason, their organization wasn’t interested in what I had to say. I say “NEXT”…
  2. ReTweet interesting articles that people post. If you are generous, people will return the favor and your followers will grow.
  3. Post interesting content (Not just yours). Did you read an interesting article that your followers might find interesting? Great post it. Useful Twitterers will increase their followers.
  4. Show your personality (as long as it isn’t negative). In my case, it’s my company and I can be negative if I want. If people don’t like what I have to say, they can look elsewhere. I’m positive most of the time, but as my friends know, I do take a stand when needed (like here).
  5. My favorite: “Tweet others like you would like to be tweeted”

Twitter can be a great way to meet people for any number of reasons. Just understand these basic rules and you should be just fine. If anyone has other suggestions, please feel free to add them here.

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2 responses to “Proper Nonprofit Twitter Etiquette

  1. I have one to add… if don’t have something nice to tweet, don’t tweet anything at all. Or at least have the hutzpah to debate your point in an open — and more extensive than twitter — forum. I saw this recently at SXSW where twitter was used in panel discussions. Twice I saw an audience rip someone to shreds if they didn’t like what they were saying. It’s very easy to hide behind your twitter account and be nasty during a presentation, but it will not help you win friends and influence people!

    Otherwise though, really terrific list! Thanks for this post!

  2. Thanks for a great post here. One question, though, about rule #1: what do you think the balance is between following back the people who follow you and keeping your twitterstream clean enough that it’s a useful information stream? I’ve just gotten started and I can already say that there are plenty of people following me who I don’t consider a useful source of information. That’s not a comment on them so much as it is a reflection of Twitter being a medium for both conversation and broadcast. Might it make more sense to follow anyone who you consider to be part of your conversation rather than a spectator?

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