So: your organization has decided that it wants to explore social media, and you’ve decided on using Twitter as one of your avenues of communication. However, starting out with new technology can be intimidating and overwhelming. To help with that initial startup anxiety, we’ve put together this guide to getting started on Twitter for nonprofits.

1. Create an account and set up your profile
The easiest, and also the most important part of the whole process. All you need to do is go to and click the big “Get Started – Join!” button. Fill in the required fields, and bam! You’ve got a Twitter account.

Next, you have to set up your profile. Make sure to add a photo – you can either use a personal photo of the person who’ll be updating the account, or your organization’s logo. Make sure to post a link to your organization’s blog or website in the “Web” section, and add a brief (very brief – 160 characters is the limit!) description of your organization to the “bio” section. Here’s some examples:

“Official twitter stream for the American Red Cross. Follow us for disaster and preparedness updates.” - @RedCross
“Create The Good is the network to connect AARP members, friends and families with ways to make a difference.” -@CreateTheGood

2. Build your network
Post one or two introductory “tweets” – maybe a link to your blog or website, and a brief introduction. Then you can begin to build your network. Use the “Find People” feature to check for people in your email address book who are already using Twitter. You can also use the search feature to search for people who are tweeting about your area of interest – for example, you can search for “poverty” or “hunger” to find people tweeting about those topics, then you can follow them. Often, people you follow will follow you back.

3. Listen!
Once you’ve built up your network a little bit, you need to listen! Before posting frequent tweets, take the time to see what your followers and the people you follow are talking about, and how the conversations flow. Get an idea of the culture that your particular field has in its Twitter presence before jumping in.

4. Engage
After you’ve figured out how the conversations are going, it’s time to engage. Join into conversations with your followers, post facts about your organization, updates about upcoming events, interesting links, etc. Make sure that everything you post has some sort of value to your followers. Encourage followers to join in with a call to action – ask them to “retweet” your posts, tell a friend about your organization, and so on. When people become engaged, you’ll develop relationships that can build a great deal of value for your organization.

Posted in: Social Media

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