Using Twitter to advance your mission

What is Twitter? …and how does it relate to the nonprofit/philanthropic community?

This week I’m posting some basics about Twitter, what it is and how I am using it. Next week I’ll post information about how I see Twitter benefiting the nonprofit/philanthropic community.

Twitter is a microblogging site that allows you to follow the updates of interesting people and also update your own followers on items of interest. All of this is done in 140-character posts or “tweets.”

Although it’s been around for a few years, in recent months interest in Twitter has seemingly skyrocketed. This video from Common Craft, helps explain the basic concept in an easy-to-understand and entertaining manner.

I like to think of Twitter as a constantly-flowing stream of all sorts of information – at times worthwhile, amusing, confusing, insipid, overwhelming, or even brilliant.

Personally, besides being a bit of a technophile, I enjoy Twitter for several reasons. Foremost is the ability to get useful information from experts around the globe in real-time, bite-sized chunks. Although you can get sucked into the torrent of information available, if you do a quick-scan just a few times each day (I try to check mid-day and late afternoon), you really can gather and share good, quality information in just a few minutes each day.

As a disclaimer I will state that I am not an expert user. I am not consistent in my posts, nor do I understand it all – but I think the important thing is to jump in, test the water (it is fine), and read or “listen” for a while.

I am currently following a photographer in Australia, some nationally-known social media gurus, some Cleveland bloggers, a politician or two, a few celebrities (local and otherwise), folks in fields I know nothing about and some local nonprofit/philanthropy-connected folks. What does this get me?

Information; updates; connections; answers to questions; news faster than traditional media sources; a panel of experts; etc.

 For those who haven’t yet tested the waters I encourage you to jump in.

Create a username and profile, follow a few folks, and see what happens. Search for and follow updates from people you are interested in following for personal or professional reasons.

You can also follow @CleveFoundation for foundation updates. Next week I will share a few resources relating to why I think Twitter is important and worthwhile for nonprofits and foundations to explore, and what I learned from Cleveland’s participation in the first-ever global Twestival nonprofit fundraiser.