3 things nonprofits do wrong on Twitter

in Online Fundraising,Social Media

Today I focus on three common problems I see in tweets by charities.  The reason I’m devoting so much time to these problems is this: I believe your nonprofit won’t experience the full benefit of Twitter as a social media community until these are corrected.

To help illustrate each of the three problems, you’ll see actual tweets by charities that I found on Twitter.  Unfortunately there is an abundance of examples to choose from.  Here we go . . .

1 – Tweet is too long.  A fundamental concept of social media is “sharing the content.”  You want your Twitter followers to retweet your messages.  You want them (i.e., donors, prospects, volunteers, advocates, etc.) to share your tweets with their personal network.

     To maximize how often this is done, you must make it easy for them to retweet.  For those tweets you consider most important, and that you really hope get retweeted . . . follow this advice on how to make it easier for your followers. 

     When a follower clicks the “RT” (retweet) button, the new message shouldn’t exceed 140 characters.  We shouldn’t have to spend our valuable time editing your original tweet in order to make it 140 characters or less.

     Example of a “problem” tweet I saw on Twitter
     Orig tweet = 138 characters

Go to Stacks Restaurant Tonite!There is a kick off dinner at Stacks at 7 pm. If you cannot make tomorrow evening,… http://fb.me/CZ9g89Gm

     I hit ‘RT’ and now it’s 157 characters 

RT @jubileecenter: Go to Stacks Restaurant Tonite!There is a kick off dinner at Stacks at 7 pm. If you cannot make tomorrow evening,… http://fb.me/CZ9g89Gm

     This means I have to spend time editing. Some people do this well.  Others may delete a keyword or hashtag you don’t want to lose.  Therefore, your original tweet (assuming you want people to retweet and share) must leave room for the RT @yourname:   In the example above, that means: 140 – 19 = 121 characters.  In other words, Jubilee Center writes tweets 121 characters long or less.

     2 More Examples of “problem” tweets I pulled off of Twitter
     Charity’s tweet = 132 characters

Watch video of survivor and former patient Stephanie Hosford give words of courage from the All-Star 5k Fun Run http://bit.ly/dyMlST

     Retweet = 148 characters (This charity’s tweet should be 124 or less)

RT @cityofhope: Watch video of survivor and former patient Stephanie Hosford give words of courage from the All-Star 5k Fun Run http://bit.ly/dyMlST

      Charity’s tweet = 124 characters

Mission-Orphanage for 200 girls in India-we hv land desire,faith,belief,purpose,& children 2 start http://twitpic.com/24g6ms

      Retweet = 145 characters (This charity’s tweet should be 119 or less)

RT @mission4orphans: Mission-Orphanage for 200 girls in India-we hv land desire,faith,belief,purpose,& children 2 start http://twitpic.com/24g6ms

2 – No clear benefit to the reader, to the follower of your tweets.  Your Twitter content must be engaging, interesting, answer reader/donor questions, share nuggets of information, entice us to read more, and so on. 

       Let’s look at three examples:

       a – The tweet below resembles a personal tweet; an individual sending a tweet out to friends and inviting them to dinner.  However, it is from @jubileecenter.  But unless EVERYONE already knows exactly what Jubilee Center is talking about, this tweet falls on deaf ears.  Only mild curiosity will get someone to click.  That’s not all.  When you click on the link you don’t learn anything new about the event. 

Go to Stacks Restaurant Tonite!There is a kick off dinner at Stacks at 7 pm. If you cannot make tomorrow evening,… http://fb.me/CZ9g89Gm

      b – In the tweet below from @mercycorps … Why would I care about this person taking at least 45 minutes to drive out of some city on the Central Plateau?  How does asking donors to read chit-chat build a stronger relationship with them?  In my opinion, a charity must share valuable content even in Twitter and other social media sites.  What follows isn’t an example of value-added content and that’s why I don’t care for it:

On the road to Central Plateau. Driving for 45 minutes and still not out of the city. (LH)  

     c –  Don’t make me work to figure out what you’re talking about.  Granted, with 140 characters – and less – it is challenging to write a coherent, benefit-ridden tweet. But it can be done.  First the “problem” tweet from @mission4orphans,   

Mission-Orphanage for 200 girls in India-we hv land desire,faith,belief,purpose,& children 2 start http://twitpic.com/24g6ms 

     I took their tweet and rewrote it as an example of one way to rephrase it that shares how donors can help.  And it’s only 117 characters so it can be retweeted without editing…  

Please help bring care, love, safety, and schooling to 200 girls in India w/new orphanage – http://twitpic.com/24g6ms

3 – Make the landing page worthwhile.  IF you’re going to include a link, then make it worth our while to click the link.  In the two examples above from the Jubilee Center and Mission for Orphans, both links go to pages with zero new information.  No additional clarification on the message; how to respond; why I should do anything at all; etc.  I know this sounds harsh, but it is such an IMPORTANT point!

     To strengthen relationships with your followers, take care that you do NOT waste their time.  Share something of value on the landing pages.

      In the @mission4orphans example, I was expecting to read about the new orphanage when I went to the landing page.  Tell me about the project, its status, the plans, more details on how the 200 girls will have far better lives, how I can make a difference as a donor, etc.

Recap: To get more benefit from your social media efforts on Twitter,

 1 – Make it easy for followers to retweet. Craft a shorter tweet that accommodates the automatic text added when tweeters click “RT”.  At least do this for those tweets with especially important messages that you really hope people will retweet for you.

 2 – Have a benefit in the tweet.  Give me a nugget right then, or tell me what nuggets I’ll get if you have a link for me to click.

 3 – Make sure your landing page adds value.  Give me NEW information. Help me understand more of what you need or how I can help you.  

When you do all of these consistently, I believe you’ll see more of your tweets retweeted.  I believe you’ll see more clicks on your links.  And therefore the “social” aspect of Twitter will work to benefit your charity.