“Overall, participants [in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts] that adopted integrated Social Media tools increased their fundraising [results] by as much as 40 percent compared to their peers who weren’t using the available online tools,” according to a study by Blackbaud. Clearly, Social Media sites such as Twitter can have a significant impact on donor cultivation and fundraising results.
There are already a number of good articles about how nonprofit organizations can get started with Social Media. Four particularly useful articles about getting started with Twitter are:
- “Tweeting for a Cause: A Nonprofit Guide to Getting Started with Twitter” by Sumac (courtesy of Jenny Henry, @SumacTweets) .
- “Here’s My Twitter Plan” by Ephraim Gopin (@fundraisinisfun).
- “Here’s My Twitter Fine Fifty” also by Gopin. It’s a list of 50 must-Follow people and/or companies on Twitter.
- “Facebook and Twitter for Nonprofits” by Leah Eustace at Good Works (@LeahEustace).
Because there is increasingly more information about Twitter and other Social Media online and at professional seminars, I will not use my blog to suggest how to get started with Twitter or what you can do with it. Instead, I’m going to look at what you should not do with Twitter. While Twitter can certainly help nonprofit organizations with their development efforts, there are some things you should never do.
Do NOT Expect to Raise Money. I’m not saying you can’t use Twitter to raise money. I’m just say not to expect you’ll raise a lot. Nevertheless, a few charities have enjoyed great fundraising success via Twitter. For example, the American Red Cross has raised money through Twitter in response to various disaster relief efforts. While your organization may be able to raise some money as a result of your efforts on Twitter, that should not be your primary expectation. Instead, use Twitter to cultivate and engage people, promote your cause, and build a following. Overtime, you’ll be able to talk with folks about giving.
Do NOT Use Your Professional Twitter Account for Personal Tweets. Speaking of the American Red Cross, they had an awkward Twitter moment sometime ago, as reported in The High Low. Red Cross staff member Gloria Huang wrote about finding more Dogfish Head beer, accompanied by the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. The only trouble was that Huang accidentally posted the Tweet using the Red Cross account rather than her own. Rather than posting apology after apology, the Red Cross averted potential disaster by simply taking down the Tweet and responding with a reasonable joke: “We’ve deleted the rogue Tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” The response was so well-received it inspired a blood drive for the Red Cross, partly promoted by Dogfish Head’s Twitter followers. In a charming twist to a Tweet gone wrong and set right, the hashtag for the drive was Huang’s #gettngslizzerd. While all worked out well for the Red Cross, you should be sure to keep personal and professional Tweets in the right place.
Do NOT be Corporate. Ok, I know I just said to keep personal and business Tweets separate. But, that doesn’t mean your Tweets have to be formal or dull. Remember, Twitter is about personal communication. Keep it friendly. Don’t be afraid to comment on things related to but not specifically about your mission. Don’t be stuffy; you want people to like you.
Do NOT Pat Yourself on the Back. My mother told me when I was a child and was boasting about something, “Don’t pat yourself on the back so hard. You might knock yourself over.” This is good advice for Twitter users as well. People do not want to hear you talk about how great you are. They do want to hear what you’re accomplishing that is making life better. They especially want to hear things that are meaningful to them. Share with people the issues your nonprofit is dealing with. Engage them. Cultivate them. Give them information they will find useful.
Do NOT be Exploitative. There’s a line between reacting to a crisis and exploiting one. When disasters strike, the Red Cross is there lending a helping hand and raising needed dollars. By contrast, and pulling an example from the corporate world, the Kenneth Cole company exploited the revolution in Egypt to sell its products. Here’s the Kenneth Cole Tweet: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at[…]” When the inevitable backlash came, the company took the Tweet down and apologized. It’s important to know where the line is and to stay on the correct side of it.
Do NOT Use Foul Language. Sometimes, events get the better of us. For example, witnessing a terrible injustice can bring forth the desire to use course language. However, in the Twitterverse, it’s important to avoid naughty words. Unfortunately for Chrysler, their Tweeter snapped one morning and sent this message out, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to [expletive deleted] drive.” Chrysler later removed the Tweet and apologized but not before it was Retweeted many times. So, watch your language and expect that some of your Tweets will be Retweeted, even when you don’t necessarily want them to be.
Do NOT Feel You Must Engage Everyone. While you will generally want to engage with people who are Tweeting about your cause or organization, remember you don’t have to engage with everyone. For example, someone might have things to say about your organization that are not particularly nice. Usually, it’s best to leave this alone, particularly if the person is simply being emotional and is off-base. On the other hand, if the person is making a valid point, apologize and respond. If the person is making a factual error, consider correcting it. Above all, be very careful when engaging those who are upset.
Do NOT Expect an Intern to Tweet. Your organization should not become an active user of Social Media, including Twitter, without having a plan in place that includes strategy, tactics, goals, and resources. While an intern can assist with the implementation of a Social Media plan, messages and interactions should be managed by a knowledgeable staff person who knows the organization, understands the plan, and has the maturity to professionally execute. Here’s another example from the corporate world: The Marc Jacobs company had an intern doing its Tweeting. Unfortunately, it seems the intern couldn’t take the pressure and, on his or her last day, decided to blast, using the company’s Twitter account, one of the partners. A more mature, professional individual would likely not have done the same on the way out the door. So, be sure to have the right person representing your organization.
Do NOT Automatically Exclude Twitter from Your Communications Mix. Perhaps the worst mistake you can make is to not realize the reach of Social Media and the impact you can have with it. Facebook claims to have 600 million active users each month. Twitter claims there are 175 million user accounts though at least one source (Business Insider) puts the number of active Twitter users at closer to 85 million, still a large number. Hundreds of millions of people across all demographic and socio-graphic groups are using Social Media. Many of your donors and prospective donors are using it. Your organization should weigh the pros and cons of using Social Media. You may ultimately decide, for whatever reason, that it is not appropriate for you to use Twitter or other Social Media tools. But, it should be a conscious decision one way or the other. Is Twitter right for your organization? Do you have the resources to use it properly? Should it be part of your marketing mix? Don’t ignore Social Media. Evaluate it the way you would any development or marketing strategy.
By the way, you can find me on Twitter @mlinnovations.
Are there any other “Do Nots” that should be added to my list? I invite you to add to the Do-Not list by commenting below.
That’s what Michael Rosen Says… What do you say?