What Can Tweeting Do For Your Organization?

twitter birdTwittering is like hugging. Just because it’s hard to measure the return on investment doesn’t mean there isn’t value there. – Retweet from Tony Hsieh of Zappos

Twitter is, simply put, another way to keep in touch with the people who are interested in your organization.  The 140 characters may seem limiting at first, but twitters are efficient for both parties.  Here are 10 creative ways in which others are using twitter and other social media outlets for effective two-way communication–offering information while collecting contact data. The twitter username is available when appropriate.

At the end of the list, I have collected the golden nuggets we can gather from these examples and the organizations that have employed them.

  1. How much is a name worth to your organization? For LIVESTRONG and one of its donors, it is exactly $1/name.  The organization has put out a series of calls for action via twitter utilizing re-tweets (RT is the symbol you use prior to forwarding tweets to provide credit to the source).  In May, it was – if LIVESTRONG could collect 25,000 followers for its CEO within a certain time, the organization would get $25,000 from an unnamed donor. @livestrongCEO
  2. The prize in exchange for contact information.The La Jolla Playhouse in Los Angeles recently launched a new campaign titled “Your Life, Our Stage,” in which the company invited their followers to submit ideas for a play based on their own lives by uploading videos, photos, artwork and written descriptions via the social networking vendor Brickfish.  The winning entry will have a scene from his or her life story written by Doug Wright, the playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for “I Am My Own Wife.”
  3. A reason to check Twitter on the weekends. Imagine Church offers services sent to you one microblog at a time. @imaginechurch
  4. Famous People using their lists for good. Tony Robbins, the motivational guru, as of today, has 1,110,225 followers.  His tweets include uplifting thoughts, quotes and self-promotion.  One day in May, he re-tweeted a post about a friend whose daughter was in an ICU at a Hospital in Cincinnati.  As the hospital did not send the original tweet – there is no way to fully track results, but they did get 207% increase in the number of blood donations they received in the prior year.  Incidentally, Alyssa Milano re-tweeted the same item. @tonyrobbins
  5. liver4carole – Exactly what you would imagine, Carole was on the liver transplant list and these tweets were a way to distribute updates, keep in touch with an ever-growing population, accept donations and publicize an auction. @liver4carole
  6. Reminders to make an impact. Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance includes live tweets from Capitol Hill with the intention to generate letters to senators, petition signatures, find new Facebook fans, and generate phone calls for their cause.
  7. Reminders that people want to read. The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA is  the only remaining single-screen, repertory-programmed movie theatre in the country.  Every day brings some interesting screening but who can keep track of so many films?  They are now tweeting their daily schedule. @BrattleTheatre
  8. Make people smile. I have to admit that one of my personal favorites that encouraged me to start to twitter was @cookbook.  It is incredibly creative.  Tweets are recipes that you can work in 140 characters.  I am planning on trying the Caesar salad recipe soon.
  9. Know your target. Via twitter I learned that if I friended Woodland Trust (the leading woodland conservation charity) offers Nature Detectives.  Nature Detectives is a wildlife club and website for children run by the Woodland Trust but most importantly, each day they post new nature projects through a downloadable pdf.  On any given day you can teach your children to identify flowers, paint rock bugs or a butterfly mobile.
  10. User habits matter. A man named Bill wanted to promote a speaking series for Artists’ Circle in the Twin Cities.  To collect initial followers who may be interested in the organization he used Twello.com to find people interested in both Minnesota and Art.  He followed them knowing that the majority of people automatically reciprocate by agreeing to you.  The statistics that I have seen vary but they all seem to be above 95%.

What have I learned from this collection of organizations and there use of Twitter?
First, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much content being generated everyday; people do find creative ways to use any new technology.

Secondly – the value to a nonprofit is to have a group of people who are interested in your cause who have opted-in to hear from you.  Collect followers, and then decide whether you will use it to generate excitement, poll the supporters or provide timely updates on a project.

Thirdly, it will be an essential part of any organization’s marketing plan for years to come – more and more people are joining twitter and various social organizations everyday.  Right now, it may seem as if it is only a way to reach the young, the technologically savvy and the marketing specialists – but those groups can be incredibly impactful in their outreach for themselves, and potentially, your organization.

Don’t wait – start tweeting today.