Here at RMA, we are neither “early adopters” nor are we technological Luddites. We try to use time efficiently, staying current on things, and always with one eye out for what works–and what doesn’t–in nonprofit communications. In recent months we’ve become a big fan of Twitter. Not convinced? Consider this:
1 – When a follower retweets something of yours, it is a great boost to get your message to new eyes and make new friends. As seasoned professionals who remember when press releases had to be faxed page by page and the option of one click to forward an email hadn’t even entered our lives yet (!), we get excited when something we’re promoting is retweeted by someone with dozens or hundreds of followers.
2 – It’s young in every sense of the word. It’s heavily utilized by young people and emerging professionals. Inter-generational differences will only be bridged if we move toward the center. Besides, making a conscious effort to always be learning is a fine skill at any age.
3 – It is a great addition to the communications toolbox. Like Facebook or the web in general, it can be a tempting time-waster. Twitter does have value, however, and can be very powerful. Don’t avoid giving it a try just because some people use it to waste time.
4 – It’s perfect for promoting events or linking to an article—whether to your own or media coverage that relates to your work. Links to videos are great, too.
5 – We get a quick scan of the trends and topics in the nonprofit sector, a sense of the “pulse” of things. For example, we just stumbled on @nonprofitorgs, which is just a portal or clearing house of things written for and by our peers.
6 – Speaking of trends, Twitter can be set up to track what is most frequently being Tweeted about at any given moment in a certain geographic area. Our account shows us what is popular on Twitter in Denver. A more sophisticated user could probably set any number of other parameters.
7 – It’s short and crisp. It forces us to be concise. We’ve always said that 1,000 words is an easy writing assignment; 100 words is harder, and 10 well-crafted words harder yet. Composing a good Tweet is like writing a bumper sticker.
8 – We get to choose exactly how to consume it. Social media is there at your convenience, not something that demands your attention. Obviously having Twitter come to a smart phone is one option, but it doesn’t work for us to have ongoing interruptions. We go online to Twitter.com now and then, at our convenience, to see what folks are thinking about.
9 – Remember that this technology does not necessarily require an internet connection, however, but merely phone service. We don’t Tweet much from the phone, but we could. You can understand why Twitter is a powerful tool on the street in the midst of social and political upheaval in other countries.
10 – It’s super easy to use attachments, like our PDF of Bagel Banter dates and topics for 2012, or a photo you’ve just snapped on your phone.
11 – You get a daily dose of terrific humor and inspiration. One-liners are great, are often timely and, yes, political and edgy.
12 – We can quickly review and block any new follower who is just promoting a product that has no connection to us or our work. We have our accounts set up so that every new follower prompts a quick email to us. We’d rather have a solid set of a few hundred like-minded followers than thousands of commercial ones just to make us look “important.”
If you’re not using Twitter yet, we encourage you to give it a try! It costs nothing but about five minutes to create an account and follow us as well as many of your industry colleagues, other nonprofits, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and so on. Follow us on Twitter @rmassociates (and our senior associate is there @susanliehe).