What are Foundations Tweeting?
About three weeks ago, the 411 Philanthropy Blog created a mega list of 90 Foundations that Tweet (and it is still growing.) I threw the urls into a google spreadsheet and started to browse the Twitter streams to get a better understanding of the content shared. (It wasn't useless babble!)
In an earlier post, I found the following types of patterns related to content shared on Twitter.
- Share history (Detroit Foundation)
- Talk vision and mission (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
- Share important research (Kauffman Foundation) (Hewlett Foundation)
- Retweet useful links shared by colleagues (Greater Cincinnati Foundation)
- Recruit job candidates (MacArthur Foundation)
- Important program deadlines (Hawaii Community Foundation)
- Reveal field insights (Columbus Foundation) (Case Foundation)
- Recognize employees or fellows (Kellogg Foundation)
- Profile grantee success or support their efforts (CF Community Foundation)
- Be responsive (Skoll Foundation)
- Ask questions about the future (Cleveland Foundation)
- Answer questions about the future (Knight Foundation)
What Voice Are They Using?
At the Packard Foundation, I've had the opportunity to participate in a couple of social media strategy and philosophy development sessions. One of the issues that they are thinking about as related to strategy (and policy guidelines) is the Personal VS Organizational. It's a common area of discussion for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations.
The next step was look at the Twitter profiles. The 90 Foundations that Tweet breaks it down into Foundation versus Individual. Yesterday, I was reading Jeremiah Owyang's Corporate Twitter Profile Analysis and thought it could be easily adapted to nonprofits and foundations.
1) Pure Foundation Brand
100% branded with primarily Foundation related content. These accounts, which are often sporting the logo and name of the Foundation are used to provide news, grants information, and information resources like research studies, job announcements. There is no indicator of any individuals involved. Many of the examples on the 90 Foundations that Tweet seem to approach Twitter in this way.
Example: CS Mott Foundation
Pros: This account can be managed by a team, could be set up to automatically stream content. There is d less risk of an individual being co-branded with the Foundation and potentially violating a policy, going off message, etc.
Cons: This may be perceived as a just an extension of Communications, PR or the Foundation website with little human interaction.
2) Foundation With Personality
Estimated with about 80% foundation brand and 20% personal/professional brand this account may be a branded account, although it’s clear there’s an individual participating. The content stream is more interactive with conversations happening between the Foundation and "followers."
Example: Cleveland Foundation says in the profile "Tweets by Tara" who is in the communications a department.
Pros: This account maintains the face of the Foundation brand, yet shows a human element, building trust with the community.
Cons: The account may be limiting itself as the community may come to expect and rely on the individual person to participate or may have difficulty scaling if it is only one person.
3) Employee With Foundation Association
In a rough estimate this account consists of 20% corporate related content, and approximately 80% personal information. The personal information more "professional" in that it relates to the individuals subject matter expertise.
These are accounts that are individuals and don’t “officially” or “formally” represent the foundation, but they don’t hide the fact that they’re an employee of the Foundation.
Example: Stephanie McAuliffe
Pros: These personal accounts are often organic and are a great way to build connections with a community.
Cons: Even if a disclaimer states that “these opinions only represent me, not my employer” they still are representatives of the brand. When it comes to issues like lobbying, there may be legal issues.
4) Pure Personal Account
These accounts are 100% personal content and have no tie or mention of foundation or branded information. These personal accounts, either created by an individual that doesn’t want to be associated with their employer –or their employer won’t let them is void of any corporate ties.
Example: Tiffany Thomas Smith
Pros: This account has no tie or risk to a brand.
Cons: Although the risks are reduced, so are the opportunities. The chance to spread thought leadership is lost
What profile is the "right" way to go? What type of content should you share? There are no definitive answers. These decisions have to reflect the organization's Internet communications objectives and social media strategy. Also, the decisions need to reflect internal discussions around philosophy, policy and guidelines for social media use.