Tag Archives: twitter

Learned an interesting lessson about organizational Twitter accounts and followers

12 Dec

I received an email from a TechSoup Twitter account follower, David Manzer, asking why we weren’t following him, if he followed us. He was not implying that every follow deserves a return follow, but more,that we had over 4000 followers and were only following one tenth of those. I appreciate the candor of David Manzer, and I wanted to share this lesson with y’all.

Here was the email exchange:


I noticed that Tech Soup have a Twitter account with a fair number of followers, which is no surprise considering how successful your organization is. I noticed, however, that you do not follow many in return. May I ask what it takes to be followed by your organization? Do you look for certain criteria? Just curious since I play in the VAR space and just joined the board of a non-profit here in Austin, TX.

Best Regards,

David Manzer
The Sage

(which was a good point, indeed, so I responded:)

Hi David,

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. As you have seen by now, we are now following you. The answer to your question, about how we decide to follow people is no where near as organized as you suggest, unfortunately. We don’t have any specific criteria, other than their tweets should be loosely related to our mission. That is, the tweets should reflect emerging technology, social change and the broader Nonprofit and social benefit community. To answer your question as to why we hadn’t yet followed you, is really that we only periodically dive into the followers area of Twitter and follow people. Megan (my colleague) and I each have our own twitter account (@suzboop and @penguinasana) so we are more preoccupied with reading tweets there, and broadcasting messages via the TechSoup account.

But your message has me thinking that we need to revisit the way we run our twitter operations for the organization. We don’t want to be perceived as only speaking and not listening to the larger conversation.  Finally, your point also underscores the importance of ‘friending’ in online soial networks; so we are developing and engaging a community, not just having followers and talking at them. In the past, the easiest and most low-impact way to follow people for that account was to just see who @ replied to us and follow those people. Then again, that implies that we are only following people who are referring to us, which is actually pretty self-referential and limiting.

Thanks again fro bringing this to my attention. I will blog about this and reference you in my blog entry, since you taught me that I need to revisit the way I manage followers on this account.

Best Wishes,



Anyway– it was a learning moment. And I am grateful for as many of these as I can stumble upon. After all, we are all just making this stuff up as we go along, right?


20 tips for Internal Nonprofit Organizational Twitter Etiquette

28 Jul

Ya Think you know how to Tweet?  Well, you may be tweeting inappropriately from your workplace account.

Your organization’s Twitter account can be used by various members of staff for broadcasting messages to get a greater impact than most staff would have from using their personal twitter accounts, assuming they are not a Twitter rockstar with thousands of followers.

Here are some rules of thumb to follow when tweeting from a group account that represents your organization:

  1. Do not make the mistake of accidentally tweeting from the wrong account. If you have multiple accounts, use a Twitter client like Thwirl so you cannot easily make this mistake. (there are many others, like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, cotweet, seismic)
  2. Remember that you are speaking for the organization, so you will be tweeting abt diff topics than you may in your personal Twitter accounts. For example, we only tweet about issues pertaining to nonprofits and technology with the @techsoup account.
  3. Be sure to use consistent language and branding as is specified by the org. For example, don’t use words like Buying, when referring to getting product donations, and remember to use hashtags that are relevant to our community (for ex #techsoup #nptech)
  4. When you are referring to someone, if they tweet, use an @ before their name. (ex, Blog post written by @suzboop cites @techsoup promotion)
  5. If someone Retweets (RT) yr message follow them from your organization’s account, in our case, the @techsoup account. They found what you said to be valuable, so you may find their tweets valuable too.
  6. follow users that have mentioned your org, for example by searching “TechSoup” – use http://search.twitter.com’s RSS feeds to monitor mentions
  7. If you are looking for a reference that is older, search on Friendfeed.com, since Twitter’s archive is not as far-reaching.
  8. In general, it is usually better for an individual to tweet from one’s own account and then Retweet (RT) the message from the organization’s account, showing the variety of voices that are spreading your org’s unified message
  9. When you post a link, shorten it by using bit.ly, so you can track the click though.
  10. Avoid sounding too market-y or canned, add a personal tone to the tweet, so we don’t appear to be spammers
  11. RT useful information that would be relevant to our community, don’t just post stuff promoting us
  12. Always reply to people addressing your organization. For example, if they tweet using @techsoup at the beginning of their tweet, make sure to search your replies and respond to those addressing you with @replied. –Twitter is a many-to-many conversation, not a place for announcements only
  13. When disagreeing with others’ tweets, do it from yr own individual twitter account, and don’t tweet outside of your area of expertise.
  14. Don’t tweet more than 5 times a day, and try to make at least two of those informational retweets and non-self-promotional
  15. Follow Nonprofits with large amounts of followers and those you find through a twitter directory (http://twitterpacks.pbworks.com/Non-Profits or http://mashable.com/2009/03/19/twitter-nonprofits/) and RT their tweets
  16. Use Twtpoll.com to survey nonprofit members
  17. Don’t set up new twitter accounts for new campaigns, or you are constantly starting with zero followers, instead, create short and easy-to-remember hashtags, to identify certain events. That way, you will be able to sort and follow them and others who are involved can also use the hashtag, thereby creating a community from identifying with the tag itself
  18. If you are tweeting only on your organization’s account, you should probably set up sn individual twitter account. Twitter’s all about creating a human face to your organization.
  19. Highlight new, pertinent information, give them exclusive access to something, that may only be available via Twitter
  20. Provide messages that can be easily re-Tweeted (RT) and post links to info that doesn’t require a login

Learned a lot about online community using TweetChat: tool and content were both teachers

19 Jun


Today I had several discovery moments of serendipitous learning via Twitter. I am noticing lately, that I am hearing all my news before it even hits the web, let alone TV, via Twitter. There is something so gratifying about reading a news-ticker on the bottom of MSNBC TV and saying , “Yeah, old news, read a tweet about  that 5 minutes ago.”  Twitter is becoming more important to us every day, and it will soon change the way we live. It definitely changes the way we are perceiving what is current and the way that we are receiving information.

When I was 12, I remember my father used to mock me for obsessively checking my voicemail. “You’re not a doctor”, he’d say, because he was one. I used to obsessively check my email, and then I moved on to obsessively checking my Facebook feed, but now I try desperately to limit my distraction and ADD time and I just manically check my tweet-stream.

Today, one of the hundreds of time i was obsessing on TweetDeck, my lens of choice, to see who was saying what and who was talking or re-tweeting me, I noticed that someone whom I respect in my field, Online Community Manager, Angela Connor, was talking about stuff I found to be interesting and using a hashtag I didn’t recognize, #Cmtychat. I followed the hashtag, and I was all of a sudden immersed in a lively discussion of community managers from all over the world, talking about what we do and sharing best practices.The discussion hour was half over by the time I arrrived there, but I tried to join in without seeing too lame and ignorant. One of the things I learned in this event was the new members to a community often felt embarrassed to post for the first time, and it is imperative to welcome the newbies and encourage them. This is something that is common sense, but it was among hundreds of rules of thumb that were nice to be reminded of.

I joined in and started tweeting about my work with Nonprofits and Online Community and mimicked the behavior of the others. Soon, I was being addressed by them and responded to, and I was really happy to have stumbled upon this spontaneous and free conference about online community. I started observing my own behavior as a community newbie (to their conference) and reflected upon my behavior, using it as a lesson of how to better manage the communities that I run.

I used the #Cmtychat hashtag at the end of my few posts, and then discovered that the technology was even deeper then just tagging your tweet.

I clicked into the discussion and found myself in a new site that was just an aggregator of all of our tweets who were using that hastag. There is a tool called TweetChat and as you can see from this week’s community chat conference, it grabs all the posts with the same hash tag, deposits them into a separate silo, giving you the experience of being in a separate chat room, rather than distributed all over Twitter, which is actually what is happening. Best of all (albeit a little unnecessary, unless you are seriously lazy), if you tweet from the Tweetchat engine, it will add the hashtag for you. I discovered this when I added my post there, with the hashtag at the end, and then saw it posted in Twitter with a double hashtag. (Oh, the many ways we can go on about being embarrassed by tweeting. I guess that will be another post entirely.)

So, it was quite a hyper-real and helpful experience learning about online community best practices and doing it on an entirely new tool, having not been invited to participate and just jumping in and chatting, which put me in the shoes of a newbie, somewhere I haven’t been for 9 years.

Twitter is a networking tool, in addition to all the other reasons we tweet, and I now have dozens more followers and people I follow, whom I may only had met if I was actually attending the same forum or conference with them. However, in this instance, the simple curiosity about a tag, brought me into the event, and I will definitely be going back every Friday at 11am-noon PT.

You can read the transcript of this week’s Community Managers’ Chat here:  http://bit.ly/tDUMg

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