Even You Can Twitter: A Step-by-Step

Twitter Logo (c) twitter

You can love it or hate it but you can’t ignore it. It is not the be-all or end-all of communications, but it is an essential part of any nonprofit marketing and fundraising plans these days. The good news is that it is not that hard to understand. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to follow and be followed.

What is Twitter?
Twitter answers the question, “What are you doing?” It is similar to Facebook without the albums, quizzes, etc… It is short – fewer than 140 characters (including spaces) which means you want to be strategic in your conciseness. And don’t worry; it includes a backwards character counter.

Please see the accompanying article: “What Can Tweeting Do For Your Organization?” for the potential opportunities.

Now, here’s the meat (or tofu depending on your preference):

How do you tweet?

1. Go to tweeter.com and create an account. The instructions are easy enough for anyone to understand.
2. Once your account is created, it will offer to help you find people to follow. It will automatically give you the option to have twitter search through your address book if your book is on gmail, yahoo or aol, and find friends who are twittering.

Then, you will automatically be sent to a page that says, “Look who else is here. Start following them!” I’m not sure how people end up on the list, but it doesn’t seem to change significantly over time. Be aware that it selects everyone as a default so if you do not want to follow everyone on that list, you can deselect or use the “skip this step” option at the bottom.

Who should you follow? When you are considering a person, you will see an image on the left, a name in the middle and a description on the right. (Later, you can create your own brief description, so as you read through those whom you might follow, consider what you would like to say about your self.)

Select a few people to follow from twitter’s suggestions. This is not a life long commitment – you can “deselect a person(s) at any time. But this will give you an idea of what types of tweets people offer.

Also, as you listen to the radio, watch TV or if you are one of the few who still read a newspaper, you will realize that many famous people twitter. Your favorite NPR host, Stephen Colbert or that person who writes your favorite nonprofit newsletter – Resources: The MJA newsletter (who tweets @bullseye33). Well, maybe I’m not famous but I hope that you may be interested in what I have to say.

There is an obvious search button on the right if you want to look for anyone in particular.

Spend a week or two following others to see what kinds of things you like to hear about. Some people like to tweet about the bits and pieces of everyday life. Some people like to offer advice. I am not a daily tweeter. Not even always a weekly tweeter. But I like the opportunity to share something interesting or re-tweet to like-minded people. Then, start sending out your own tweets.

Mobile Devices:
I am not an expert, but I do know that if you will need to download additional software to your phone so that you can easily read your tweets. (going through safari and twitter.com on an iphone is too clunky. I use twitterific – the free version includes an ad at the top but as I am scrolling through the messages anyway – it doesn’t bother me. You can pay for an ad-free version if you choose to do so.

Certain signs that you will see:
RT = Re-tweet = the person read the tweet and wanted to forward it along. When you forward, you include the original tweeter’s name, i.e. RT@bullseye33 Mersky, Jaffe & Associates has a new downloadable article – get it for free now!

# = hash tags = words that can be added to your Twitter messages and begin with an “#” Then, when someone wants to search for something, they can do a search for nonprofit and anyone who has created a post with the tag #nonprofit will show up.

More questions? Send them to me by clicking here or following me at @merskyjaffe