I spend a lot of time listening on the social web using a radar that I've put together with a combination of free tools and the Stradivarius Violin of listening tools, Radian 6. One topic that I regularly track are research reports, including demographic, technographics, and overall numbers for social media sites. I have a clipping file in a flickr set called Social Media Research Snippets.
I like to track the data, but also think about what it means for nonprofits.
State of the Twittersphere
Twitter grader is a measure of authority and reach of a Twitter user. My grade is 100 which means that my account scores higher than 100.0 percent of the 714018 users that have been graded. It is sort of like Technorati for Twitter.
Here's a summary of the data from the report:
- Twitter is dominated by newer users - 70% of Twitter users joined in 2008
- An estimated 5-10 thousand new accounts are opened per day
- 35% of Twitter users have 10 or fewer followers
- 9% of Twitter users follow no one at all
- There is a strong correlation between the number of followers you have and the number of people you follow
David Meerman Scott offers some thoughts about the implications of these numbers. His main point is that Twitter is not an advertising tool or spam tool. That nonprofits and companies should not set up a Twitter account to "prattle on about their products and services." He is predicting a demise of inanimate objects as Twitter accounts or those who don't represent real people, just marketing vehicles for brands.
Nonprofit Best Practices on Twitter
I happen to catch the question above from the Idealist. I found it because I have an RSS feed for a twitter search on the nptech tag. I also track an ego feed on Twitter through Radian 6 and caught wind of this tweet about best practices and twitter.
And then I remember answering a similar question during the Convio Webinar last week. So, here's some quick points about how nonprofits should consider using Twitter if they want to be effective.
Twitter Is Not A Billboard and It's Not All About You
- Don't even think of Twitter as a billboard to post your message. It doesn't work. If you want learn the fine art of having a conversation on Twitter, follow and observe the masters. Chris Brogan for starters. Learn how to engage your followers. Provide quick human answers to your followers, ask questions, direct people to great resources (not your own 1:20 ratio - point to one of your resources for every twenty resources), stay in touch without being intrusive, no when to direct message, be funny, etc. Tara Hunt has a fabulous list of what to Tweet if you're just getting started. And Be sure to avoid these mistakes.
Listen Before You Start Talking
- Don't jump in without listening to others in your space using Twitter. Set up a Twitter listening post for your nonprofit as a first step. Here's how. Jumping in to talk or spread your message is a mistake. It's like starting a blog without first following and commenting on others blog.
Personality Must Be Included, Forget The Boring Institutional Biolerplate
- On Twitter, your organization should have a personality. That's how some companies have been successful on Twitter- like Frank at Comcast or Lionel at Dell. I like the way NTEN does it. Holly Ross's Twitter account is ntenhross - so it is branded as both her and her organization. There is also a generic organization one - but a lot of NTEN conversations happen through Holly and other staff.
On Twitter, Everyone Should Know That You're A Human
- Make your profile human, warm, and inviting. Not cold and institutional. Here's some terrific tips about how your profile can attract more followers. Here's a neat tool to help you design your profile. The worst thing you can do is not upload a photo or fill out the your profile. Identify who you are and inc lude a link. I link my profile to a Twitter Landing page. I got the idea for a Twitter Landing from Laura Fitton (@pistachio) a virtuoso Twitter user who I observed to learn best practices.
Respond to Followers
- The worst thing you can do is ignore people who ask you questions or share comments. Respond. If you use a tool like Tweetdeck, it will be easy for you reply to your @messages even if they don't mention you in the beginning. This is part of my morning routine, to respond to replies. Here's a guide to replies.
The image above is from a post by Rohit Bhargava that sums up the advice rather nicely.
- Nonprofit Best Practices on Twitter
- How To Set Up A Nonprofit Listening Post on Twitter
- Twitter Handbook
- Twitter bookmarks on delicious.com
- Five Mistakes International NGOs make when using Twitter
- Get Started Right with Your Nonprofit on Twitter
- Laura Lee Dooley's Twitter Tools Bookmarks
- WeAreMedia Twitter Tool Box Link
- Brian Solis RoundupTwitter tools
- Make A Tweet Plan
What other nonprofit Twitter best practices would you add to the list?