Twittering in the non-profit community sector

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Community organisations, or not profit organisations, either deliver programmes on behalf of the government or fill a gap in service provision within the community. They focus on empowering communities and their stakeholders and encourage engagement and provide services that are responsive, relevant and accountable to their communities. What better way to achieve these objectives than through the use of social media.

A Brisbane-based community organisation that provides a range of services and programmes for thousands of clients throughout Brisbane will be used as the case study organisation. Their stakeholders include: clients, staff, the local community, other community groups and organisations, and the broader community and funding bodies. For this week’s blog, I will discuss microblogging strategies that can be used in non-profit organisations.


 Why Twitter is Important to Non-Profits:

  • To find people within the community who support the organisation’s cause.
  • Twitter provides a platform for members of the community to exchange information with the organisation and help one another without depleting the organisation’s resources.
  • Twitter allows organisations to begin discussions with new people and inform them about organisational goals and enables the supply of tools to interact and engage with the public and major stakeholders.

Lovejoy and Saxton’s analysis of ‘How Non-Profit Organisations Use Social Media’ has found that there are 3 key functions of micro-blogging updates —“information,” “community,” and “action.” They state that Twitter when used strategically by non-profit organisations can engage stakeholders through dialogue and community-building practices more effectively than through traditional websites through the use of direct and instant communication.

So what strategies can be put in place to ensure the 3 key functions of micro-blogging within the community sector, ‘information’, ‘community’ and ‘action’ can be achieved?

  • Clearly Define Your Objectives It is important to have clearly defined objectives when participating in micro-blogging, such as Twitter, to highlight content, promote awareness of an issue and instigate action. Clearly defined objectives will help you to ascertain if Twitter can assist your organisation with reaching it larger communication goals.
  • Know Your Target Audience(s):  To communicate effectively, tailor your communication to your target audience and communicate messages that resonate with your audience and prompt them to take action.
  • Determine Resource Needs:  Determine if you have the appropriate staffing resources to create content and manage your organisation’s Twitter account. The organisation should appoint a program coordinator as a point of contact for twitter activities and to ensure content is posted regularly.
  • Generate interest in your organisations’ services by posting at least once a day, and as you generate more followers follow up your posting with ‘tiny url’s’ that link back to your website and services.

 ActionAId Australia provides an excellent example of how to use Twitter to find and engage volunteers. ActionAid Australia sought volunteer bloggers to travel to a remote location and train locals to use Twitter to end poverty. Furthermore, they set up the Toto Challenge (The Overseas Training Operation), which was promoted relentlessly through Twitter. Action Aid Australia has used the challenge to find and interact with volunteers on Twitter, as shown here:

 

What’s your plan?

Twitter is not just a strategy, it is also a tool. Based on your goals and your audience, a plan of action needs to be devised to enhance your organisation’s Twitter presence:

1. Upload a logo and add a bio and website before you start following people. People won’t reciprocate your following with the default Twitter Egg image and a blank bio that tells them nothing about who you are or what your non-profit stands for.

2. Send out a few tweets before you start following people. You want to make sure that there are some “Recent Tweets” displayed when people first click on your Twitter username. Otherwise, most of those you follow will not follow you in return.

3. Use “Favourites” to organise your Tweets, especially if you are following thousands of people.

For additional tips on the use of Twitter in non-profit organisations, click here:

Apart from information sharing and engaging stakeholders, the other fantastic benefit micro-blogging offers a non-profit organisation is increasing brand awareness, which can result in the organisation receiving additional donations and funding.

Thanks for reading my blog. I would appreciate any comments or feedback.

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3 responses »

  1. Hello Areej,
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