Sunday, May 3, 2009

Twitter Friend or Foe? Part II

In part one of this post I asked a simple question: Does knowing what other people are doing add value to your life?
It has been just over two weeks and 141 “tweets”. It started as a curiosity and now twitter is the first place I go to in the morning and the last place at night. It must add value although I’m not sure exactly why. Let’s try to figure that out…

Twitter moves fast.

Your network expands at a remarkable rate. People are ruthless; they follow for a day, stop following if you aren’t interesting to them. This way you end up building a community you enjoy spending time in.

Twitter is a place to get to know people.
It’s like spending your day in a big office full of likeable people with common interests who are working hard. At the same time they are joking, laughing, taking lunch breaks, getting married, watching pointless youtube videos, sharing news and oh yes…sharing resources.

Joining twitter can strengthen existing online relationships in a way Facebook or a blog can’t. Short tweets about riding a bike to work, babies keeping people up at night, meeting “boys” at the grocery store or cats taking over the couch add a human element to online relationships. Matt Parkes talked about twittering moments of discovery, reflection and achievement last week on his blog.

Twitter integrates other social media.
YouTube, facebook, blogs, news items, flicker, LinkedIn they all come together in one place and work to tell stories, share information and yes…even raise money.

Twitter and fundraising. This is tricky and controversial. A few charities I liked lost me quickly. They felt like machines blasting me with the key messages all day. I stopped following them immediately. There are a few consultants on there who promote themselves so much they will loose me soon too. Laurie Pringle is right. There needs to be a balance – it is called “social media” for a reason. The relationships you develop can lead to a raising money if done the right way. I’ll be writing more about this on SOFII next month.

However, Twitter is not the online answer to my organization’s two person fundraising shop. No way. I often wonder what is falling behind as organizations throw limited human resources into online fundraising? As Marc Pitman points out, it might be worthwhile to at least become familiar with web2.0 and certainly there is no need to fear it. In the Lake Simcoe too many of our other programs would be compromised if all my work energy went into online initiatives. It is hard enough for us to keep our website up to date. Until our capacity is stronger, I’ll learn about how social media works from the experience of other charities.

Who to follow?
Ask yourself why you are there. I am there to learn about how twitter fits into the charitable sector. So I started by searching for online colleagues I already knew. People whose blog I read, charities I liked. Then I looked at who they were following and before I knew it – I had my twitter community.

The Future of Twitter.

It is hard to imagine that the folks at Twitter will be able to sustain this growth, it will need to innovate quickly. Watching what they do will be very fun.

In the meantime, it is what it is. Informative, educational, social and sometimes completely without purpose.

Thank you for spending time here.


  1. Excellent! You've captured Twitter really well here. I actually have a theory about who will do best on Twitter... gamers! But that's another story.

    I'm enjoying it immensely for all the reasons you mentioned. I see it as a great way to build relationships - of all kinds.

    You need a geek volunteer. I think the work you guys do is well suited to Twitter. But I do understand your resource constraints. We need to find you a really smart geek who will enjoy tweeting about some of the fun stuff you guys do. I see cottage tips, lake tips, gardening tips - all kinds of great info you could spread to engage ppl... if you had someone to do it!

  2. Thank you once again for your involvement in this blog Laurie. Also for you kind words about Lake Simcoe.

    When it comes to online presence I think it is important to remember that it must be sustainable. Volunteers need management and they are usually temporary. Short term projects are best. We had a volunteer for our facebook cause pages. Don't have that volunteer those pages are neglected because I just can't get to them. Web 2.0 stuff needs high level support so that the interests and messages of the org are consistent. I doube it would work if a volunteer manages and approval needs to be granted from a senior level.

    It would be interesting to know how other small orgs do this without staff in place.

    Another great discussion! Thank you.

  3. I am surprised at how much I have been enjoying Twitter and have learned from it (I found YOUR blog for one!).

    My sources for nonprofit information had been fairly limited to Charity Channel and my local AFP and I am enjoying watching how various nonprofit orgs, consultants and others involved in philanthropy are using Twitter.

  4. Thank you for your comment Pamela. Twitter surprised me too!