Ever thought of Twitter as a virtual water cooler? You know the place in the office where people gather over water, coffee, or soda for brief conversations. Some of those are casual conversations where people connect, chit-chat, and get to know one another. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, in many cases, those conversations also are rich exchanges of ideas and insights that lead to breakthroughs on projects or partnerships. Those are the ones that really interest me.
I’ve come to view Twitter as such a place with an added bonus, Twitter conversations occur on a global scale. With 140 million active users on Twitter and 340 million tweets per day that’s a big water cooler and a lot of conversations – most of which don’t interest me.
How do you cut through the clutter and noise to find those Twitterers who are tweeting on topics that interest you? That’s where the law of attraction comes into play.
Remember, all social media networks build on the law of attraction, the concept that like attracts like. The people on Twitter that you know, respect, and follow probably have other people in their networks (follows and followers) that you’d also have find interesting and beneficial as contacts.
If your new to Twitter or haven’t spent much time on it, here’s how to get started.
Create your Twitter profile and make it beneficial.
Build your initial network by following people you know and respect in your professional field or an area of personal interest.
Find people’s Twitter handles (e.g. @kevin_monroe) on their other social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) or from their email signatures. You may want to connect your Twitter account to your other social media tools to make this easier.
Explore the Twitter profiles of people you know to see who they follow and who follows them.
Consider the recommendations of people to follow that Twitter provides.
If you’re like me, you want to discover those interesting tweeps you don’t yet know tweeting about things that interest you. But who are they and what water coolers are they gathering around?
A hashtag is the “#” symbol (hashtag) plus a relevant keyword or phrase. The purpose of hashtags is to aggregate all the messages on a common theme by their hashtag and allow them to be easily collected, followed, or searched. Here’s a list of 30 super useful nonprofit hashtags.
Hashtags are extremely useful, but wait there’s more.
Here’s the winning combination that unlocked Twitter for me:
Hashtags + Twitter Lists + Tweetdeck = Twitter Magic
Hashtags serve as the code to sort and make sense of Twitter. However, for me, the real magic began when I discovered Twitter lists and added those lists and hashtags into my Tweetdeck account.
That's when I struck Twitter gold.
Now I have the power of the Twitterverse displayed on one screen and sorted into columns that I can easily follow and sort. WOW!
Here are a few of the lists that I’ve developed based on my interests in the nonprofit world:
NP Associations is a group of state, national, or international associations that I’m interested in.
Nonprofit Board Gurus is a select group of people I regard as thought leaders on the subject of nonprofit governance (none of them would call themselves gurus, but I can).
NPO Thought Leaders is a list of people I regard as thought leaders shaping the world and work of the social sector.
These are public lists that you can subscribe to if any interest you, or you can create your own.
Finally a word about Tweetchats – water cooler conversations on steroids. My favorite is #NPCons (NonProfit Consultants) a global gathering of consultants on the 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 4:00 ET for a rich and robust dialogue with other like-minded people from around the world to share ideas, insights, and experiences on topics of mutual interest 140 characters at a time. All tweets are tagged with the #NPCons hashtag and you can follow along on Twitter or one of the management tools like Tweetdeck. You can learn more here or search the archives.
#NPCons is a refreshing hour each month at the global water cooler; if you’re a consultant I invite you to join us. However, there are lots of other great Tweetchats that may interest you, here’s a list.
A word of warning, don’t get crazy with hashtags. I’ve seen hashtags like the message below but don’t want to embarrass others, so I made one up.
Twitter recommends limiting your use of hashtags to two per tweet.
I hope this helps you find your winning combination on Twitter. Please add your comment below or tweet me @kevin_monroe to meet you at the water cooler for a conversation.
Which metaphor seems to best describe your view of Twitter, telephone or megaphone? Granted there are many tweeters who seem to use Twitter primarily as a megaphone to broadcast messages. Personally, I think they are missing the point and purpose of Twitter.
As Anna McDonnell who tweets under @5forFairness tweeted, quoting Steve Downs from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, social media is not a one-way dissemination channel; Twitter is about discovery. @ColinLJohnston tweeted “social media is not about pushing a message but about establishing relationships.”
In finding my way through the Twitterverse, I’ve discovered Twitter to be extremely powerful as a relationship tool and shared that in a previous post. Using Twitter as a relationship tool, I find it helpful to think of Twitter as a telephone – a vehicle for conversations and dialogue.
Twitter as a telephone
Stimulating conversations involve discovery, two-way exchanges, and listening. Twitter is a great tool for discovering what others are doing, their areas of interest, and the helpful information or resources they share. On Twitter this can happen by:
asking questions, or
retweeting or replying to interesting tweets from others.
Think of tweets as interactions that lead to conversations by a meaningful and mutual exchange. These conversations can either spawn or strengthen relationships (explored more here).
Below are two tweets illustrating how a couple of nonprofit organizations are using Twitter to engage in relationships and conversations.
I asked Elaine Brinkley, the Executive Director of Camp Fire USA Georgia Council, to elaborate on what she meant by “tweeting makes us more aware of our own stories” and this is what she shared via an email.
“To elaborate on my tweet, Twitter is an easy way to send updates to our participants, donors and friends. The simplicity makes us more likely to share news and photos thus making us aware of how many incredible things there are to share. The responses we receive encourage our staff and board to keep working hard because we know that our programs matter. It is the interaction more than the simplicity that makes Twitter and other social media options really exciting for all of us in the non-profit world.”
@CampFireUSAGA uses Twitter to connect with “participants, donors and friends” by sharing news, stories, and photos which in turn, spurs additional interaction and conversation. These conversations serve to encourage their board and staff.
I love it!!!
Thanks Elaine for sharing and keep up the great work you do and using Twitter and other social media to allow others to share in your work.
When you think of Twitter as a telephone, please realize it’s not just a one-on-one call, but is also capable of conference calling. Tweetchats are one way to use Twitter as a realtime conference call. For example, earlier this week was my favorite monthly Tweetchat, #NPCons (nonprofit consultants), convening consultants from around the world for an hour of moderated conversation around a topic. I’ll unpack this more in the next post.
Twitter is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways to facilitate conversations, but for many, it’s a megaphone rather than a telephone.
Twitter as a megaphone
Plenty of people are shouting with their Tweets. These tweeters send a constant barrage of information, but rarely, if ever, engage in conversations. They use Twitter as a stage for a monologue rather than a bench for dialogue.
They monopolize the conversation and do all of the talking and constantly promote their message, program, or organization. At a party most people seek an escape from that person, on Twitter it’s easy to ignore the conversation hog.
However, there are times when using Twitter as a megaphone is important and has its place.
Take PANO as an example, I love how they use Twitter to broadcast the great works of their members. Everyday they highlight a different member and shine the spotlight on that member’s great work. While they are using Twitter as a megaphone, they are talking about others and serving as a bridge to help make connections for their members. This is another way to use Twitter as a relationship tool.
While I’m talking about PANO and megaphones, they also use Twitter to spread the word about important issues and mobilize their constituents and friends to action. In one specific instance, PANO used Twitter to rally organizations and individuals to speak out against proposed budget cuts by the State Assembly. What a great way to use Twitter as a megaphone. Thanks PANO for your service and sharing how you’re using Twitter to serve others.
How about you, what creative ways do you see nonprofits using Twitter as a telephone or megaphone for engaging in conversations and developing or nurturing relationships? Please comment below or @kevin_monroe.
Are you a daily Twitterer? According to a new study from Pew Internet about 15% of online adults are tweeting on a daily basis. That number has doubled in the last year, but why?
Two big things are happening. Twitter is maturing - it's grown far beyond the who, what, and where of people's dining or entertainment patterns. It's become a newsfeed for many AND people are learning to use Twitter as a seedbed for relationships. Twitter is a gold mine for nonprofit leaders and organizations who thrive on relationships.
I don’t claim to be a social media expert and am not writing as one. However, I am a devotee of both Twitter and LinkedIn and decided to devote a short series of blog posts sharing a few personal experiences (mine and others’) and insights on how nonprofit leaders are using these tools to grow their personal and professional networks while also advancing their organizational causes.
The first post introduced 4 Tips and Truths about Twitter;the first truth is: Twitter revolves around relationships. Rather than thinking of Twitter as a marketing tool think of it as a relationship development tool.
Here are some tweets from others supporting this notion:
These tweets were just a few exchanged during a May 30 Stanford Social Innovation Review webinar entitled, Leading in a Hyperconnected World sponsored by Living Cities. You can view a video replay here.
What does it mean to think of Twitter as a relationship tool?
Don’t be a twit with your tweets.
Be your authentic self and engage in relationship development. Think how you respond to people on-land who only talk about themselves. Twitter works the same way. It’s not all about you, so make sure your tweets aren’t all about you or your organization. Become a conversationalist.
Show interest in others by following people or organizations with whom you share mutual interests. Reply to their tweets and engage in conversations. If they do, say, or share something you find interesting share it by retweeting (RT) it to your followers. Ask questions and engage with those that respond.
For many this means moving beyond Twitter to other mediums that allow for conversations longer than 140 characters. Many conversations that began as tweets or re-tweets have moved into telephone calls, group conference calls, personal interactions, or face-to-face meetings. I’m amazed at how many relationships Twitter has spawned.
A small touch can have a huge impact on a relationship.
Here's just one personal example. Last month I met Bob at a conference where @ClaireD from Twitter was the morning keynote speaker. Bob subscribed to Twitter while listening to Claire and joined in the conversations using the conference hash tag (more on that in a later post). That afternoon I met Bob during the breakout session I was leading. We had a brief conversation and exchanged a few tweets over the next week. Out of the blue Bob (@nucidirector) referred to me as his Twitter mentor and invited me to breakfast or lunch. I discovered he lives in Athens, GA and last week I was there to speak at a conference and we arranged to meet for breakfast to talk Twitter.
Bob is the Executive Director for Nuci's Space. I knew nothing about the organization, but over breakfast became so fascinated with the organization and its work, that I asked if it would be possible to arrange a site visit while I was in town. Bob worked it out and I discovered an absolutely amazing organization that is perhaps the most innovative and creative model preventing suicide and promoting emotional, physical, and professional well-being of musicians. You can learn more about them here. What began as a couple of short tweets expanded into a real relationship. Thanks @nucidirector for jumping in and giving Twitter a try. Who knows what doors may open for the organization by connnecting with folks 140 characters at a time on Twitter?
How about you? In what ways have you used Twitter to develop or strengthen relationships? What insights or ideas would you suggest others consider when they use Twitter for a relationship development? Please respond below or tweet me @kevin_monroe
Where, what, and with whom did you have breakfast today? Who cares?
That’s how I viewed the early days of Twitter. It seemed like a bunch of narcissistic nonsense and a complete waste of time. My, how things have changed for Twitter in 5 short years.
Like many of you, I signed on to Twitter relatively early, December 16, 2009 to be exact. Not that I’m such a nerd that I marked that date on my calendar but I found it here. I had no clue about Twitter and little interest in exploring it back then. But I certainly didn’t want people to think I was a Luddite, so I opened an account and let it sit idle for 18 months.
Something happened last summer that caught my attention. I had written 3 guest blog posts for The Foundation Center who had tweeted them to their fans and followers. One Saturday morning I received a tweet from someone in Australia regarding these posts.
That certainly grabbed my attention and piqued my curiosity. How is it that someone from down under saw these posts and reached out to start a conversation? It was a Twitter phenomenon that I’ve since seen repeated in a variety of ways.
A 140 character message (that contained a link to a longer blog post) served to start a conversation. Granted there are times it’s challenging to have extended conversations 140 characters a pop, more on that below.
That series of tweets was my personal tipping point to wade deeper into Twitter and discover just what an awesome relationship building tool it is.
Here are 4 truths and tips about Twitter:
Twitter Truth #1 Twitter revolves around relationships.
Fundamentally, Twitter is a connecting point for relationship development. Relationships are primary, all else is derivative. Twitter is not a substitute for relationships, but a tool to develop, foster, and enhance relationships.
Twitter Tip #1 Good relationships require authenticity and mutual interest. Find yourself and be authentic in your tweeting. Don’t hide behind an avatar (your digital self) and don’t let other people tweet for you. Be personal, yet professional with your tweets.
Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@ClaireD), who leads social innovation for Twitter, suggests nonprofit organizations have 3 different types of accounts: the information account for your organization, personal accounts for your staff, and, a fundraising account if you are raising money via Twitter.
Twitter Truth #2 Twitter thrives on dialogues not monologues.
At least good tweeting does. Too many people view Twitter as a megaphone rather than a telephone. In other words, they are constantly in talk mode and rarely in listen mode. Tweeps see through that and most have a low tolerance for it.
Twitter Tip #2 Listen more than you talk! Make sure you authentically engage with others, ask questions, and when someone says or shares something profound, pass it along to your followers by retweeting it (RT).
Twitter Truth #3 Twitter grows on the law of attraction.
Like attracts like and Twitter is a global gateway for connecting with other like-minded people in your community or tribe. You just have to find where they are hanging out and how to meet them.
Twitter Tip #3 Use hash tags which are the # sign followed by a word that aggregates all of the tweets on that subject into a single feed so you can follow a conversation. Here’s a great list of 30 hashtags from @karvetski you might want to explore using.
Also participate in Tweetchats on topics you find interesting. If you’re new to Tweetchats, just think online conference call in 140 character or less messages.
Twitter Truth #4 Twitter multiplies your reach.
Having a tweet go viral and getting a bazillion RTs all of whom send $1 to your organization is probably a fantasy. I’m not aware of that happening for any organization yet. However, building on truth #3 everyone who follows you knows others who are also interested in following you. Getting people to spread the word of your amazing work (by RTing your tweets) leverages your reach and introduces you to new people and possibilities.
Twitter Tip #4 share interesting tweets and valuable content that your followers will want to pass along. Ask them to share (pls RT) and make it easy for them to share leave space for them to RT without truncating your message.
Remember, it’s not necessary that you create all of this yourself; actually, it’s better if you don’t. As you find items of interest by others, share what you find valuable by passing those tweets on to your followers.
My final Twitter Tip is jump in. Ultimately you want and need to be strategic with your use of Twitter. However, at first you just need to experience it to understand it. Then you can determine how it complements your relationship development strategy.
How's your nonprofit organization using Twitter? Please join the conversation by commenting below or by tweeting @kevin_monroe to share your experiences or ask a question. I'm collecting success stories and strategies to share in upcoming posts; I'd love to include your's to help others on their journey.