Consistent Twitter policy a must for nonprofits

Effective Twitter use can create an engaged group of followers who pay attention to what a nonprofit has to say.

The basics are important, like letting followers know your nonprofit has secure online payment processing services or information about an upcoming charity auction. Your nonprofit won't reap all the rewards of Twitter unless it consistently asks questions, offers useful information and engages in discussion, according to J Campbell Social Marketing. The company's nonprofit-centric advice for increasing the power of your tweets can help you reach more possible donors and create an active community.

Get the basics right
Optimizing your Twitter profile is the first step for success. Your nonprofit could be asking great questions and engaging with other Twitter users, but if your profile is empty it will be hard to attract new followers. Put your organization's important information into Twitter's bio section and link to your website.

Use the photo fields Twitter provides to brand your page and help enhance recognition. The proper formatting of images, like using a large enough file with the correct proportions, is important to eliminate stretching and pixelation. Completed profiles, with full biographies and images in place, attract more followers.

Recognize followers and follow more of them
Increasing the number of accounts you follow means a greater chance of more people following you. Following leaders in the area your nonprofit specializes in is a good start, as is following donors big and small.

Some judgment is required as not to be overbearing, but offer a quick thank you to those who follow your account and be sure to recognize followers who donate to your cause. Don't just have one-way conversations - ask questions and try to create a discussion.

Hashtags and photos
Images increase involvement, as 36 percent of all links shared on Twitter are images. Additionally, you'll double engagement on average when you use an image link, productivity site Buffer reported. The types of images you use depends on what field your nonprofit is involved in, but photos of physical donations, volunteers at work, the results of a successful project or even your staff can all be effective.

Hashtags are another booster for engagement as long as the right ones are used. Check websites that focus on hashtags - J Campbell Social Marketing recommends hashtags.org - to make sure the tags you use are being used by others. In general, hashtag use doubles engagement. Tweets with one or two hashtags have a marked increase in involvement, although overuse of hashtags in individual tweets will lower the amount of interaction.

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