As a post-grad Public Relations student passionate about social health issues, I have produced most of my communications plans, news releases, blog posts, presentations, Tweets, etc. about why not-for-profits and other organizations are important and how they can improve their awareness and fundraising initiatives. Most of these assignments required research to understand what the organizations' needs were.
So I started checking out the Twitter profiles of organizations I wanted to write about. Organizations I have been personally involved with, or just really admire. I was shocked to find out that many of them have fewer followers than I do and they just don't Tweet much, or Tweet enough.
In my Online Public Relations class, I learned that organizations can reach huge numbers of people by effectively using social media. This means Tweeting often about relevant topics and to promote events and other great things. It means Tweeting in a way that will help people realize that there is a person behind the Twitter account who they can interact with. It means checking out what's trending and what those you are following need and are interested in.
Think about how young people communicate: the internet! Social media! By not Tweeting effectively, these organizations are likely not reaching this audience effectively -- perhaps not even online at all, or at all PERIOD. Young people can really benefit from these organizations.
I do not blame these organizations, though. I know they aren't lazy. I know they really care about young people. I learned in my Online Public Relations course that Twitter takes a lot of time and manpower to really reach people. You have to Tweet often to ensure you are seen and to encourage people to follow you. You have to Follow people and Tweet information that reflects your brand and values. This requires research.
Those of you who use Twitter probably know that you can spend a whole day just reading things on Twitter, searching for interesting people whose interests you share to follow. If you're an organization, you'll probably have to spend even more time doing this to make sure that you're reaching the right people effectively. The words you use and the links you share in Tweets have to reflect what you're all about. They have to interest and motivate people. This is why so many organizations have a communications member who works solely on social media.
With all of the work and small number of staff these organizations have, especially in the communications department, it's no wonder operating Twitter is likely low on their lists of tasks. Maybe it just doesn't seem like a priority.
Well, I think it IS a priority. Twitter isn't just for narcissists like me, celebrities and news organizations. Twitter is about engaging people. What better place to promote a fundraiser? To share a story that addresses stigma or a research breakthrough? To reach citizens you can help or powerful people who can help your cause?
I propose a campaign to raise awareness about great organizations on Twitter. Add me to Twitter (@cartooninperson), @mention me and a great organization and Tweet about how it could benefit from a higher Twitter profile and why its work matters to you. By @mentioning these organizations, we'll also show them that Twitter matters; we care about their cause and we value what they do for us. Twitter is a powerful tool for an organization to measure its impact. I'll Retweet the Tweets you send me that I believe in. You can do the same. @mention organizations to your friends. Let's start a revolution!