What are people saying about your nonprofit? Who lives in your area and cares about your cause? Who’s looking for your help right now?
You can find out. You won’t have to hire a private investigator or ask the NSA to give you secret data. What you need is Twitter search.
Is Your Constituency on Twitter?
You may be surprised at who’s using Twitter these days. “For Black Americans, the social network of choice may very well be Twitter, as 25% of Twitter users are African Americans (approximately double the U.S. population),” says marketing expert Jay Baer.
In fact, a Pew study reveals, “The typical Twitter user is an 18-29 year-old educated minority with a well-paying job, and slightly more likely to be male than female…Use of Twitter across all age demographics is on the rise.”
Listening In to Conversations
Twitter offers you the chance to be a fly on the wall when the people you care about are talking. As Tao of Twitter author Mark Schaefer points out, “If you search Google, Bing or Yahoo, your results will be articles, videos, and websites. But if you search Twitter, the results are real-time conversations.”
What could your nonprofit find out by listening in to conversations on Twitter? Let’s say your mission is to create affordable housing. You could find:
- People living in your town who have expressed positive sentiments about affordable housing
- Tweets that mention your agency by name
- Elected officials who have (or noticeably have not) addressed the issue
- Media personalities who take an interest in the issue
- Donors to your organization and what’s on their minds
Getting In On the Conversation
Even if you never send a tweet yourself, this information could be highly valuable to you. You could add like-minded people to your mailing list, or recruit a public figure to speak at your next event. You could find out how you look to your community. You could do donor and prospect research that produces more gifts.
But if you tweet, you make yourself part of the conversation. Imagine:
- Building a relationship with that high-powered donor who’s too busy to have a meeting, but always answers his tweets.
- Answering questions about affordable housing so that people know you’re the thought leader in the field.
- Lobbying a public official and having many of your supporters join in.
- Finding someone who needs housing right now, helping them obtain it, and watching them sing your praises online.
- Getting on the radar screen of people who might never have seen your name any other way.
Whether you use Twitter search to gather information or also tweet to take part in a conversation, it could be a powerful tool for your nonprofit.
Are you already using Twitter at your nonprofit? What advice would you give an agency that wants to start using Twitter?