Yes you can fix stupid: Janet Fouts explains Twitter at Nonprofit Technology Conference

Followed the recommendation of the We Are Media blogging session and went to Flickr to snag this image

Followed the recommendation of the We Are Media blogging session to snag this image; THANKS Ann A Liese!

(Hat tip to Ron White.  While redneck humor isn’t really my style, I do appreciate his bit about things you can fix and things you can’t.  I guess you can fix my lack of education when it comes to Twitter.)

Just came from great session at’s NTC 09 conference in San Francisco (with 1,400 of my new best friends).  From the speaker, Janet Fouts, who prefers the term social media “coach,” I took away 15 tips – count em!  Her overall message:  make Twitter a part of an overall integrated marketing strategy and don’t get carried away with tweeting drivel.  (Yes, you can tweet that you just ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but followers will quickly grow bored if you don’t find something more interesting to say.)

  1. Fill out the bio:  “think of something compelling to say in 50 words” (hmm, note to self) and choose a background that has something to do with your interests/focus
  2. If you’re twittering for an organization, you can list the org’s URL on your Twitter profile.  But if you’re promoting a specific fundraising campaign or event, change it to the specific URL for that activity.
  3. If you’re doing a Twitter-based fundraising campaign, install a Twitter widget on your home page and be sure to time-limit the campaign (<1 week).
  4. Use hashtags.  Those are those keyword phrases preceded by the pound sign, a la #09NTC.  As other people pick up the tags, it connects the dots between people who are interested in that topic.  Make one up about your hunger or cause, e.g. #sactree.
  5. Janet’s favorite app for collecting money for a Twitter-based fundraising effort is tipjoy, partly because she thinks the transaction fee is reasonable ($.30 per transaction plus 2.5%)  I’ve blogged about it before, here.  I got to ask my question about the possibility of fraud:  could someone pose as your cause and siphon off dollars meant for you?  It could happen, but I guess I’d call it low risk at this point.
  6. Always say thank you when someone replies to your tweet, and say “please” when you ask someone to retweet
  7. The average number of Twitter followers is 75-ish.  When you get up to about 100, start expanding the topics you tweet about, e.g. hobbies
  8. Twitter isn’t a water cooloer.  Be circumspect.  And remember that you can delete a tweet but it will live on in Google’s search database for two weeks.
  9. Post opportunities, not just yours.
  10. Set up a schedule to review people who have started following you.  Decide if you want to follow them; thank them at least.
  11. Don’t auto-tweet blog posts.  Janet recommends composing your own tweet and linking to your blog.
  12. Don’t use Twitter to regurgitate news releases (in short messages).  It’s one-way and it will irritate people.
  13. With all of the traffic that’s out there, keep in mind that your one lonely little post per day will get lost in the volume of tweets.  Tweet more often if you can, but have something worthwhile to say.
  14. Janet likes hootsuite for organizations that want to have multiple tweeters under one account.  Side benefits:  shortens URL’s, gives you statistics about your tweet and enables you to schedule tweets at a time that it’s convenient for you to look for responses.
  15. Use Twitter to form tweet circles.  Use a hashtag in your posts and then search to find people who are talking about that.  Follow them and contact them!

End note:  Twitter is not an end state for a relationship; it should be a beginning.  After you connect on Twitter, find other ways to engage outside of Twitter.  Remember the phone?


1 Comment

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One response to “Yes you can fix stupid: Janet Fouts explains Twitter at Nonprofit Technology Conference

  1. Wow, Betsy, you work fast! Thanks for the summary of tips from the session. I’m glad it was useful. FYI I’m posting links to some of the tools I mentioned in the talk on my blog and will also post the slides on Slideshare and this page so people can re-cycle.