Last week I wrote a post called "8 Nonprofit CEOs Who Tweet" and the number quickly grew based on the responses in the comments. It got me thinking about managing multiples: multiple twitter accounts, multiple people tweeting from one account, and how do you tweet a network of affiliates or a movement. There are no official rules, although there is some great advice in the O'Reilly Twitter Book on this topic for corporate examples.
You'll need to decide who is doing the Tweeting for your organization. Will you set up one flagship account and have one or more staff members tweet from that account? Or will you have an organizational account but also encourage staff to Tweet as well? Obviously, it is good idea to have just one organizational account because it does take work to maintain. And, it is a good idea allow employees to have personal accounts just as long as they identify themselves with your organization.
Will having an personal Twitter account for your organization like having an organizational email account in the future?
Managing Multiple Twitter Staff Accounts For Work
Identifying Twitter Accounts, Linking to Web Site
A year ago, maybe it was just the marketing director who was on Twitter or some organizations had one general, branded account. As Twitter has become more a common tool in the nonprofit toolbox, it can be useful beyond the marketing department. Since Twitter can help put a "human face" on the organizations, nonprofits may find themselves having multiple staff Twitter accounts for organizational use.
The example above is from Lisa Goddard who is the marketing director at the Capital Area Food Bank. There are multiple people from the organization on Twitter. Each account is in the person's name, but they are clearly identified with the organization both in a customized Twitter profile image and in the 160 character bio. Take for example their CEO David Davenport.
It is also important to identify your staff twitter accounts on your organization's web site. The whole team from the Capital Area Food Bank is identified on Web Site's newsroom. Another way to approach is to include Twitter handles in staff profiles on the web site. Take a look at Ellen Miller from the Sunlight Foundation as an example.
In looking at the Twitter streams of this team of organizational Twitters, they are re-tweeting each other or having conversation. This helps expand the collective number of followers for the organization.
One thing is missing from these Twitter profiles, however. They are not as findable as they should be. That's because when you search "Find People on Twitter" it searches the name field. So, it is important to include your organization's name in the name field - well, unless, the name of your staff person or CEO is well-identified. Check out how Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos uses the name field.
Also, according to the Twitter Book, the name field is what Twitter uses to email someone when you follow them. So, in the example of Lisa Goddard, that email would say Lisa Goddard. If she edited the name field to read, "Lisa Goddard, Capital Area Food Bank," people she follows would know she is with the Food Bank.
A Few Tools
There are many Twitter applications to manage multiple accounts. (See 25 Twitter Apps to Manage Multiple Accounts.)
I discovered CoTweet and Hootsuite when I needed a Twitter application that did not have to be installed on the desktop. The features I was looking for were: scheduled tweets and URL shortners. The power of these two useful application is the ability to post to multiple accounts and assign workflow. Like TweetDeck and other clients, it makes it easier to re-tweet and dm. These are great tools to support a team of twitters.
They have slightly different feature sets. I love Hootsuite's "Hootlet" which goes on your browser and allows you tweet while you are browsing web sites and blogs. If you share a lot of information from other sources via Twitter, this tool is a big time saver. Hootsuite lets you track stats of click thrus in a visual way. Here's an example. I just played with the next version of HootSuite and it has groups!
CoTweet has a beautiful interface, and while it lacks bookmarklet, it does offer the ability to do searches and all the features of Hootsuite. At first, I missed the fact it tracked stats because the feature was embedded in the interface. Stats can be accessed by clicking on the icon next to any bit.ly link.
I'm using them both, but I'm not managing a team. I recommend test driving each application with a small group and deciding which one better meets your needs.
One Account, Multiple People Twittering
Have different people Twitter from one account. It's simpler. This is a good way for a smaller organization to use Twitter. It's a good model for live tweeting an event or a time specific event. But how do you add the humanity? Co-Tweet's Twitter account is an example. Are there nonprofit examples?
Networks of Affiliates
I recently got a sneak peek at the private Wiki that the United Way is using with its affiliates to aggregate and share best practices on social media use. They have a section on Twitter which links to tools and best practices. Here's what they're recommending:
They also have some specific examples about how to present the branding for the United Way on Twitter and have incorporated Twitter into their social media policy guidelines. (See these examples of policy for more details on that) However as Iavor Ivanov, Director, Web Experience, observes:
We can't lay down the twitter law (guidelines) for local United Ways -- we can just point out the pros and cons and ask them to decide if that type of engagement makes sense in their online communities. I know of about 30 chapters that have adopted it, but haven't heard any amazing success stories ... yet.
With a network, using #hashtags can potentially have great impact. The United Way suggests a set of hashtags in its social media guidelines:
What is your organization's approach to multiples on Twitter?