Twitter: telephone or megaphone?
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.