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How to use Twitter

Top tips on how to use micro-blogging platform Twitter to communicate with your organisation's supporters.


Keep it interesting

Don’t Tweet for the sake of it. Write the kind of tweets that will attract the right kind of people. Are your followers really interested in what you had for breakfast?


Choose your words wisely

The 280 character limit forces you to be direct and choose your words carefully! Don't annoy people by using text language (l8r, tnx 4 ur hlp). Punctuate properly. Draft then rewrite your tweet to make it as concise as possible.

You should include a url (a website address) in tweets wherever possible, so that people can read more about an issue, and to promote your own website's content. Don't worry if it's long, Twitter will automatically shorten it for you.

Adding a photo or illustration to your tweet, makes it much more likely to get noticed.


Join the debate

Follow organisations and people who are relevant to you and your organisation. You can retweet things they post that might be of interest to your followers. 

Comment on other Tweets when appropriate, but use a tone of voice that matches your organisation, rather than reflecting your own personality.


Send other Twitter users a Direct Message

If you want to ask someone on Twitter something without sending out a public tweet, send them a Direct Message (DM). Don't clog up people's feeds with a message that only needs to be seen by one person. There is a handy button for sending a Direct Message, in the Messages section (top left).

By default only people you follow can send you a direct message. Want to open it up so anyone can get in touch? Go to Settings & Privacy then Privacy & Safety and tick the box to Receive Direct Messages from anyone.


Integrate Twitter with your other social media networks

Social networking works best when you can link to your other social media platforms. 

Make sure you link to your Twitter profile in a prominent position on your website and blog - so many organisations forget to do this. Include your Twitter address on your contact us page and add to your email signatures.

Many organisations choose to have a live Twitter feed on their website, often in the footer so it's visible on every page. If you go to Settings & Privacy then Widgets, you can get the code to insert on your website.

You can also tweet links to your other resources online; videos on YouTube, posts on Instagram etc.


Use hashtags

By prefixing a word in a tweet with the hash symbol (#) it becomes a clickable and searchable hashtag. This is very useful for following a topic. Often conferences or events will be tagged in this way (eg #kbis10), helping you follow the conversation from anyone tweeting about that event.

Use this sparingly, just one or two hashtags per post. Try to integrate them into the sentence rather than append them to the end. Otherwise you'll have little room left for descriptive text, and too many links look overwhelming.

Websites such as Hashtagify can help you figure out which hashtags are popular in your areas of interest.


Check your stats, and benchmark them

How will you learn what does and doesn't work, if you don't check your stats? Fortunately in Twitter that's very easy to do, by clicking on your profile picture in the top right, then choosing Analytics. You can find out how many times your tweets were placed in front of people, how often readers engaged with them by retweeting what you wrote, and how often they clicked to visit your links.

How does your use of Twitter compare with other nonprofits? You might find the annual M+R Benchmarks Studies useful.


Make your profile shine

It's important to present a good profile to the world. It's likely to get visited a lot (check your stats to find out how often) and needs to look professional and match your charity's branding.

You should upload a logo and a banner. The recommended dimensions for the banner are 1500x500 pixels, and the logo should be 400x400 pixels. Take a look at a few charities' Twitter profiles and you'll see how bad it can look when they try to squash a rectangular logo into a square box. Imagine how the logo will look on a small phone, keep it simple as possible. The banner can be updated occasionally, to reflect your activities if you want.

You get 160 characters to write a biography. Keep it professional and make it concise, containing a few very relevant keywords, because this could make your profile appear when people search for those words in Twitter.

Make sure you add your organisation's website address to your profile. If you're a local charity, fill in the location.

If you write a tweet and want to promote it above your other tweets, there's an option to pin it to your profile so it always appears first.

Further information


Page last edited Jan 12, 2018 History

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