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Kivi Leroux Miller

I love this topic, Beth. Thanks for adding to the discussion today. I'm interested to see what others in the nonprofit world think about Trust Agents too.

Dave Webb

I fully agree with Sean and Dana that humanizing our online interactions is what makes them so compelling. Aren't our daily lives a blend of personal and professional? I would hope that conducting ourselves this way online would not be marginalized by the thought that sharing about our non-work activity has no value. I have enjoyed and appreciated living in Twitterville the past two years and hope that it does not become an overdeveloped Twitteropolis.

Tori Tuncan

Hi Beth. For the past month or so I have become consumed by "other stuff" and I have not been on Twitter as much as I had in the past. I have still gotten on to Twitter to do basic updates about Lend4Health, but I have drastically reduced the "human"/personal tweets.

As a result, I have DEFINITELY noticed that the Twitter-based "action" on Lend4Health (ie, new lenders brought over from Twitter) has almost completely dropped off. It's not really surprising to me, but it is interesting to watch it happen. It has become very apparent to me that, unless you have some major social capital, an organization needs to maintain a consistent, personal presence on Twitter in order to reap the benefits of new interest in (and donations/loans to) one's non-profit or cause.

The "business" tweets become "noise" and easily ignorable, I think. It's the personal, human tweets from that business/non-profit that keep people engaged and interested in participating.

Twitter can definitely be a useful tool for a non-profit, but it takes consistent work and participation for it to work.

Tori
Lend4Health.org

Rudy Bachraty

Yes, using social media effectively helps individuals and companies have meaningful and real conversations w/ their audience, customers and clients = human. I do it for Trulia everyday and the relationships, contacts and trust built by engaging via social networks is nothing short of amazing.

However, if you really suck at communicating and holding a meaningful conversation in real life - face to face - you might also suck online using social networks.

Rudy
Social Media Guru for Trulia

PS - Really looking forward to reading Trust Agents.

Beth Kanter

@tori - I've noticed that too. Seems like your network on Twitter needs consistent tuning and feeding.

Tori Tuncan

@beth: Yes. It's very much like any relationship. For example, if my only interactions with my husband are focused around what we're having for dinner, whose birthday party the kids are going to, and what issue we're having with the cable company, the marriage quickly becomes "flat" (and my husband might even start ignoring my "messages!" - gasp!)

But if we have casual, personal banter every day, if we have deep discussions about the health care debate or about the politics of the day; if we share a laugh or reveal some insight we gleaned that morning during a commute or at the coffee shop, the marriage stays solid (and I would say that those other "logistical messages" are more likely to be acted upon as well.)

This is what I have noticed with my Lend4Health tweets. When I tweet the logistics only, my "partners" lose interest (and, unlike a marriage, they can easily "unfollow!").

The problem with tweeting, as with practicing good communications with your spouse, is that it takes time. It's a priority that needs consistent love and attention, watering and feeding.

With a smaller, start-up non-profit, it is difficult to figure out the priorities. You need the network to help grow and deepen the cause, but you also need the cause to be working to attract the network.

And round and round we go! :)

Tori

Nathaniel Nakashima

At what point does humanizing your Twitter profile become a distraction from the main objective or topic of discussion? I think we're all familiar with website forums that contain discussions completely unrelated to the main objective of the forum. I think some people don't mind these distractions, yet others do because they joined the forum to talk about an important issue - instead of talking about that issue, people are talking about what type of coffee they're drinking or that they had a bad day and needed ice cream. If you follow this road, the forum transforms into something that is quite useless to the people who want to seriously discuss important issues. Is there a solution that can appease everyone? I think there is and that it involves creating, standardizing, and subscribing to #hashtags.

I think that throughout the course of this conversation, many have forgotten about the use of #hashtags and their ability to help solve some of the discourse over what type of twitter profile to choose from (i.e. option 1, 2, 3, or 4; humanizing vs. non-humanizing). Instead, I think we should be focusing our efforts on which #hashtags to create, standardize, and subscribe to across the philanthropic/non-profit industry. For those of you who do not know yet, a #hashtag essentially categorizes tweets from all over the Twitter network by topic - effectively sorting all the "noise" into relevant specific streams of interest. A #hashtag stream could theoretically consist of tweets from all types of Twitter profiles (e.g. pure foundation brand, foundations with personality, employees with foundation associations, and pure personal accounts). Therefore, it wouldn't matter what type of Twitter profile you had - as long as you use a #hashtag in your tweet, people subscribed to that particular #hashtag will see your relevant tweet without seeing all the other "noise" in your Twitter stream. In this way, less attention is put on individual accounts and more attention is put on the #hashtagged topic of interest - which should be the focus anyway right? So in essence, those of you who want to have a more "humanizing" Twitter profile can have your cake and tweet about it too - though if you decide to also tweet about the important issues facing the philanthropy/non-profit industry, you can just #hashtag the topic.

After doing some research on Philanthropy411's blogpost of the "90 Foundations that Tweet", I found that less than 50% were using #hashtags. On top of that even less were using industry-relevant #hashtags. Below is a list of common #hashtags that are being used by the Foundations to "catergorize" their tweets into general areas interest.

#nonprofits
#nonprofit
#foundations
#foundation
#philanthropy
#grantmakers
#ngo
#humanitarian
#causes
#grants
#grant
#evaluation
#healthreform
#publichealth
#health
#hcan
#healthcare
#healthbill
#edreform
#education
#edtech
#STEM
#arts
#artsculturemich
#sustainability
#green
#energychallenge
#ecomonday
#waterwednesday
#nptech
#npecon
#socialgood
#sosg
#socent
#charity
#fundraising
#giving
#silentauction
#raffles
#nonprofitgiveaway
#charitytuesday
#volunteer

As you can see, most of the #hashtags listed above are really way way too general to be of any use. If for instance, you tagged a tweet about your Foundation's performing arts program with #arts, your tweet would be amongst tweets about all kinds of topics in the art world - even tweets about Paula Abdul leaving American Idol. If, however, there was a standard #hashtag for philanthropy/non-profit art like #philart (stands for philanthropy art) or #npart (stands for non-profit art), then I think we would see everyone in this industry getting a lot more out of Twitter (e.g. engaging in conversation, finding it more useful as a social media tool). As a result, I see a need for the philanthropy/non-profit world to create, standardize, and subscribe to #hashtags. The sooner this happens, the sooner everyone can stop stressing about what type of profile to choose (humanizing vs. non-humanizing) and start communicating effectively.



Beth Kanter

Hi Nathaniel:

I agree with you that hashtags are great for more focused filtering and aggregating around a specific theme or topic! Thanks for doing this analysis of hashtags. Perhaps a unique, field tag might work. The nonprofit technology community uses #nptech tag - it's been in existence for a number of years (before Twitter) as a place for nonprofit techies to share information. There's also the nptechjob tag as well that is used to aggregate jobs.

I still think though that organizations and foundations need to consider whether an institutional voice or more personal touch helps them reach their social media strategies.

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