If your organization got on Twitter just to spam your new blog posts and press releases, you’re starting off on the wrong foot.
But you can get on the right foot (or the left, whichever you prefer) really quickly if you start focusing on the right things, like sparking conversations and engaging frequently with your members – both current and future ones.
Twitter is truly a great way for your organization to show its personality; respond to people; talk with people; track your success; and listen to people. If you take the right steps you’ll soon find yourself in the midst of an ongoing and never-ending conversation about your organization and the space that your organization is in.
Here are some tips to help you use Twitter in the most beneficial way and start building community:
1. Set up a main account for your organization and put one person in charge of it.
You want to have a main organization account so that people can find you easily. In the bio, write a brief description of what your organization does. Make sure you also link to your website in the bio.
One creative way to do this is to build a Twitter-specific landing page on your website and put that link in your profile. The landing page can welcome your visitors to your organization; describe what you’re all about and the types of things you normally tweet about; and then list the Twitter handles of your team members as well so that people can follow them.
It is also a good idea to put one person in charge of managing your main account so that there are not too many people scheduling tweets. It also puts a real, human face to the content you are sharing. Keep in mind that when you don’t have an individual representing your organization, there can be a lot of confusion over who is behind the tweets.
2. Give your staff their own individual accounts.
In addition to having your main Twitter account and clearly stating which employee is behind it, you should give your staff members their own individual accounts.
This is because your members and potential members are going to want to see individuals representing the organization in addition to the main account. Each staff member will have their own style, personality, and things that they like to tweet.
This also allows for each employee to have their own types of content that they are responsible to share, like PR, marketing, events, and publications.
While all the key organization information/events will be tweeted from the main account so that no one misses anything, having individual accounts for your staff gives them the freedom to go further into their particular area of focus. This could include tweeting extra details about an event if the main account can’t, or posting more articles and information about their area of expertise, which enables your company to reach people the main account may not have found.
When each staff member has their own account, they also grow their own separate groups of followers. Those people can then be exposed to retweets and shares from your organization’s main account. This will spread awareness and cause more people to follow.
3. Ask each staff member to follow people who tweet regularly about your cause.
Twitter is about engaging in conversations. When you direct which conversations you follow and reply to, you can build community.
Use Twitter search to find your industry keywords and your organization name mentions so you can follow the people already in these conversations. Also, if you use Twitter directories such as We Follow, Twibs, and Twellow, you can find people based on their type of business or other tags such as interests.
If you have an email list for all of your members, Twitter has an import function that you can use to import those emails and find your members on Twitter. You can also use this tool to find names that are familiar to you, or people who are active on Twitter, and start building relationships so that you can ask them to spread the word about your new account and about your organization as a whole.
4. Use a social media management tool to manage all of your Twitter accounts.
These kinds of management tools allow your staff to decide if they want to tweet something to the main account and their own accounts, or if they want to just do it one at a time.
HootSuite offers analytics as well as intelligent search for Twitter conversations; lets you schedule your tweets in advance; and allows you to add multiple team members as well.
Sprout Social also has analytics and keyword monitoring; allows you to schedule your tweets in advance; and also has a HelpDesk option that lets you turn messages into support tickets.
TweetDeck also lets you manage multiple accounts and tweet from just one or from all of them; schedule tweets in advance; turn on alerts for new information; filter searches; and build custom timelines for your website.
5. Retweet your team members and followers.
This helps connect the followers of your different accounts, while building relationships with members by putting their content in front of a wider potential audience.
You can keep track of any relevant conversations between your team members under the main account, and follow them. Also, when you retweet other people who are involved in your industry and network, it makes them appreciative and see that you’re focusing on them as well, and not just your own organization.
6. Use hashtags to promote your events.
When you’re having a big conference, fundraiser or other type of event, start tweeting about it and use a designated hashtag for it as well. Hashtags are more easily found in a search than if you were to set up a separate Twitter account for an event. They can also start trending more easily if you get many people tweeting about the event.
Further, when you use a hashtag, you make it easier for your staff members who have a good following to stay on the radar and not hidden under a separate event account.
7. Share great content.
When you’re tweeting great content, people will talk about it. And when people are talking about it, you’re building community and getting more visibility.
Talk to your staff members and have each one of them share links that pertain to their separate areas of expertise. Strongly encourage them to start and engage in conversations with content creators; respond to other content being tweeted; and actively search for really great content to share.
Taking care of your areas of interest, staying involved, and listening to others in addition to talking is the key to connecting with members.
8. Measure your progress.
Find out what metrics best indicate your success. This could be the number of organization links that are retweeted; how many new people register for your events; or how many people you have following you.
Whatever it is, make sure you’re measuring it so that you know where to focus your efforts the most. In addition to some of the social media management tools mentioned earlier, there are other tools specifically for analytics that can help you with this, such as Twitter Analytics,Twitonomy, and Tweetchup.
Know of any other great ways to use Twitter for nonprofits to build better member relationships? Add them in the comments below!