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DO NOT engage with Twitter if you don't want to invest time, attention and resources in making real connections there.

DO NOT encourage your staff to Twitter if you don't want them to share information quickly, connect to one another more deeply, and discuss your nonprofits work with the broader public.

DO NOT even try it unless you are open to serendipitous returns. If you establish rigid goals and "pursue" them with Twitter, you may as well just flush the toilet. Be open to spontaneity. Go with the flow.

DO NOT approach Twitter with the aim of accumulating and controlling an audience.

DO NOT mistake Twitter for software.

DO NOT Twitter without love.

There's a bunch more... how about 'em, folks?

Nonprofits trying to understand the power of Twitter & its zeigeist? Go check out, and anyone with peas in their avatar photo. This arose spontaneously. From love, connection, support and caring. It's spreading like wildfire. We just added yesterday to offer the PEAvatar folks their own Twitter "channel" to come together and share information, ideas & support. Tomorrow is the fund drive.

Read this for how it all started: and this reflection by @conniereece: And understand that without any "pitch" or "blogger relations campaign" @scobleizer blogged about it and @loiclemeur changed his avatar and added it to his daily Seesmic vlog.

The power here, and what will happen tomorrow in the fund drive, comes from connection and love. There's no trick, tip or shortcut to get there. But the potential momentum nonprofits could achieve through social media if they start genuinely engaging, listening, experimenting and trying? Staggering.


Here are a couple to add to the list:

Twitter isn't for you if...

-you're just going to ignore the feedback/conversation that your tweet sparks
-you insist on being very formal in your organization's public communications

Beth Dunn

I love "Do not Twitter without Love." Should be a bumper sticker.

I also love Twitter too much, and think many of these tips boil down to "Do not use Twitter if you are going to insist on thinking Twitter is something which it is not."

This includes (Twitter is NOT):
A place to blindly flog your site/events/posts
Just another channel for your PR
An "Audience" waiting to hear your "message"
Like anything you've seen before
Easy to walk away from


Confidentiality! Everything you twitter may be followed by anyone. Any nonprofit dealing with sensitive content or the public should be advised not to share names or information without permission.

Privacy and trust are essential for many nonprofit orgs and many groups are likely better off using their website and blog as their primary communications tool and keep away from rapid-fire tweets about sensitive topics. If lawyers need to read your releases before you send them definitely do not tweet.

Sue Waters

My other words of advice would be to think carefully about why and how you want to use it, and how you will manage it.

The number of people you choose to follow will also impact on how you use it. Chris is doing an incredible job in maintaining conversation when following close to 2,500 people. The more people you follow the more you will have to focus as Chris suggests on using twitter "as an idea bank, a place to gather information or think of new things, or see what your friends are doing". So you will need to make a decision do you follow less people and focus on the conversation or more people and focus on the aspects he suggests?

For me the conversations are important because my goal is to use Twitter for my personal learning. Less than 200 followers was easy to maintain the conversations, now that I have bumped over 200 I am now looking at ways to managing it all better. For me the most important aspects of blogging and twittering are the conversations. Do both if you value the conversations.

Beth Kanter

I'm behind and just catching up - and Pistachio the pea story is amazing.


Admittedly, we're still in the experimentation stage with Twitter. But one thing we've noticed -- it's difficult to use as a local org. People see "of greater St. Louis" in our name and assume it's not for them. Of course, we're not investing the staff time Twitter deserves, either! But things like Facebook have been much more successful for us so far.

Any advice for local orgs with a decidedly local focus?

Beth Kanter


Two thoughts come to mind:

- What is your goal in using twitter? If you want to use it to have a conversation or listen to your local donors/audience, maybe it isn't the right tool?

-If you want to use it as a professional development strategy - to help you keep up on social media techniques, maybe you need a personal account and use that to experiment.

-I wonder if engaging in hyper local blogs - like placeblogs are more appropriate?

I would love it if you would share some of your best learnings about Facebook?


Twitter is a great way to connect people in an immediate and personal way (and informally), and, like everyone else has said here, not to broadcast PR.

I think that using Twitter for your organization isn't effective unless it's used in a specific campaign or event context. Examples:

1. Twitter would be great for a grassroots org to post updates about a specific issue - especially a time-sensitive one. The progress and media resources about a Bill, election, or other campaign. The org's website asks people to follow their twitter updates.

2. If an org is having an event or, again, some time-sensitive organized activity, Twitter is a great way to keep folks updated and engaged - and promote buzz within the community, from the community. We used it at last year's NTC, and will do more this year.

Otherwise, it sounds like people are trying to apply Facebook-like promotion through Twitter. I think of Twitter like an evolved chat room, and Facebook an evolved online directory.

Britt Bravo

Hey Beth!

I've included your post in this month's Net2ThinkTank roundup

Beverly Robertson

Hi Beth,

I have been twittering daily pregnancy tips for the March of Dimes (in English and Spanish) since August. I am hopeful that young pregnant women will be interested. Finding friends seems to be about promoting visibility.

Do you have any thoughts?


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