Experiment in a Box: Twitter

Use this worksheet to design your experiment.


Twitter can be a terrific tool for listening, engaging, and spreading buzz. Twitter has been used by nonprofits to accomplish the following:
  • Keep current supporters engaged
  • Inspire conversation to support communications goal
  • Create buzz around an offline event before, during, and after
  • Get new ideas and feedback on programs and services
  • Program support to clients
  • Drive traffic to web site or blog
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Coordinate meetings with officials and policy leaders
  • Identify Influencers like journalists using Twitter and encourage them to use you as a source
  • Identify and build relationships with allies & supporters
  • Tweeting key points about your issue

Step 1: Sign Up

  • Sign up for a free account and fill out your profile by adding an image and one-line bio and include a link to your site.
  • You can read on the web or send messages to your phone or IM client. Decide what works best for your working style.
  • You can "protect your updates" or "open." Pros/cons to each.
  • Decide whether you want an organizational account or individual account. Or you can do both, for example, see A good example is Comcast Cares
  • Share the workload - should not just be one person. Listening on Twitter can take 5 or ten minutes of your day each day.
  • Thinking about whether or not your CEO should tweet? Read this.

Step 2: Your Profile

Take a look at different Twitter profiles to get inspiration and ideas. Here's a list of Nonprofits on Twitter.
Nonprofit Pulse just created a mashup Here's some terrific tips about how your profile can attract more followers. Here's a neat tool to help you design your profile.

Some design points:

Background Picture:
Create an attractive background image in photoshop (File Dimensions: 2048 by 1707 pixels total Branding Dimensions: 80 pixels by 587). Use the same colors that you have on your blog or website for marketing consistency. List your web-page, short bio, LinkedIn Url, Stumbleupon address. Include An “Interesting Fact” on your background image or bullet points about your programs or tag line.

Location: Under the “Account” tab within the “Settings” area, enter your real name, city and state. This way, people will be more likely to find you.

One line bio: Write a bio that’s under seven words so people can get your organization much faster. Also, keep in mind this how the search people also picks up Twitter ids.

Short Url: Keep your web-site address short by using bit.ly You can also track who is clicking through to your web site or landing page.

Don’t Scare Them Away: Use a Twitter landing page on your web site that gives the 101 on your organization and links to content that people following you might be interested in.

Step 3: What will you twitter about?

Use this handy worksheet to help you think it through.
what to tweet worksheet.pdf

Listen before you start talking on Twitter. If you skipped that part, than use Twitter Search or one of the other Twitter search clients. Start typing in keywords related to your listening goals. Can't visualize that?
Read this story by the American Stroke Association

Here's some listening tips:

  1. Twitter Search: Simple key word searches can yield valuable information. However, sometimes you'll need to hone your search using the "Advanced Search." I also learned that Twitter search has some tricks too. You can remove a search term by putting the (-) minus sign in front of it. Also, you can search for either of two words by inserting the word "or."
  2. Trending Terms: I've been playing a game for the past couple of months. I look at Twitter search terms and then see if the terms are related to headlines. Lots of times there are #hashtags trending, but often they are cryptic. "What is the Trend" gives you a list of trending #hastags and the ability to fill others in what they mean if you are closely involved.
  3. Retrieving Older Tweets: Apparently the search stream on Twitter only goes back as far as three months. But you can try a google search by using site: twitter.com/account name.
  4. Keeping Track of Tweets that linked to your blog or web site. I search for my user name and name, but because of the URL shorterner, you can't always find who mentioned your blog without your Twitter handle. There's a tool called BackTweet
  5. Finding People: Twellow searches through user profiles and also has different categories of listings.

Here's a basic list of what to twitter and some tips on getting your tweets retweeted and more on the Art of Retweet. Need more Twitter conversation starters? Here they are.

Be sure to track your click thru and retweets with bit.ly and backtype.

Step 4: Find People

Start with a couple of people who you know or who represent the group of people you want to listen to. You can search through your followers followers or the people you follow, followers. You can try searching for people's names on Twitter.

You can also search on different terms using Tweetscan here's Philanthropy and don't forget about searching on Twitter hashtags for specific events or topics to find people who may be interested in your organization.

Follow interesting hashtags to find people.

Use Friend or Follow to download a spreadsheet of followers. Sort the information to find influencers and people to get to know.

Mr. Tweet finds influencers in your network you should follow (use this after you have built up your following list). Mailana can help you identify people who are influencers as can the impact report from Twitalyzer You may also want to visualize your Twitter network as well.

Once you've found people, keep them organized on Twitter's handy list feature. You can create open or closed lists. Creating lists of supporters, staff, or related organizations is a great technique for expanding your network.

Step 5: Add Twitter Apps

To get started, use the Twitter Web interface, but as you get more comfortable with Twitter, you will find it limiting. There is a whole ecosystem of Twitter applications that can make your Twitter work more effective. You'll find these over at OneForty. I've created
a list of basic apps that you will need to get started. These include desktop apps, mobile apps, and tracking apps.

Desktop applications built for Twitter allow you to read replies and direct messages and offer a more custom browsing experience. My personal favorites are Tweetdeck and Co-Tweet (a good client if you can't install software on your work computer because it is web based.)

Mobile applications built for Twitter allow you tweet while you are out and about. Choosing a mobile app depends on your personal preference and of course, what phone you have. I like Tweetie for the iphone.

Want even more Twitter Tools, knock yourself out over the OneForty which is the appstore for Twitter. There are also some posts that lincludes lists and descriptions of Twitter apps, like this one from Brian Solis or more tips from Laura Lee Dooley's Twitter Presentation for Emetrics.

Step 6: Engagement Techniques

Use hashtags for your events, programs, and open up different channels for conversations.
Try a series of Twitter interviews like the 20x20
One of the best ways is to go offline, check out these types of Twitter Events.

Step 7: Measure, Reflect, and Improve

Twitalyzer calculates your influence based on your signal-to-noise ratio, generosity, velocity and clout, and it also allows you to calculate a score for any other Twitter user you wish to track. You're tracking relative increases and decreases to your influence over time and helps you refine Twitter strategies.

Don't forget to track the funnel - from influencers, awareness, engagement and conversations. More here.

For more resources and to learn more about Twitter, see my Twitter Resource Sheet on my wiki.