I was showing a group of fundraisers how to use Twitter the other day. Yes, there are still people in the nonprofit world who don’t use social media. Maybe they’re hoping if they ignore it long enough it will go away? Anyway, as my not-so-eager pupils were staring at my Twitter stream, brows began to furrow, eyes began to squint, and lips began to curl until one of them finally asked, “Why would anyone look at this?”
It’s a great question. Why indeed? Have you looked at Twitter lately? I mean REALLY looked at what’s in your Twitter stream? What the heck is going on? I watched my Twitter stream this morning and it took a full 20 minutes to see 2 conversations. TWO! Everything else was broadcast messages. That’s nuts! My class saw the same thing that I timed this morning — a long stream of people shouting ads in 140 character blasts.
I’ve been using Twitter for a little over 4 years. So, not from the beginning, but fairly early. I kept using it because it was a fun way to meet people and learn things I wouldn’t find on my own. I figured out pretty quickly that it was also a great way to connect with people for growing my business. I’ve met some wonderful people who have become very close friends. That happened because we talked to one another. We had a two-way dialogue — an exchange of ideas and opinions. We talked AND listened.
So how does this translate into using Twitter for fundraising? By going back to your roots.
Successful fundraising is based in relationships. Relationships take two people both giving and receiving. Fundraising is inherently social. And it’s time to put the social back in social media. It’s time to remember the art of the conversation.
But building successful fundraising relationships between your cause and its donors 140 characters at a time can be challenging. That’s why we’ve included extensive Twitter-based fundraising information in the Your Twitter Community module of Mosaic Non-Profit Development’s Fundraising with Social Media webinar series. You can sign up for information here. How do you gear up your fundraising with Twitter? Here are a few tips that I pulled from Your Twitter Community to help you get started:
1. Use open ended questions.
This is pretty easy. Questions keep a conversation going and statements can easily end it. If you want to carry on a conversation with someone, ask them to tell you more.
2. Listen to understand, not to respond.
How many times have you been in a conversation and are so eager to get your 2 cents in that you lose track of what the other person is saying? Most of us are guilty of this. Slow down! Listen to what is being said. Consider why they’ve decided to tell you what they are saying. Listen to fully understand as much about what you are hearing as possible. People talk to good listeners.
3. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings.
It’s hard to open up. It’s especially hard in an open forum with people you’ve never met face to face. But a little candor can go a long way toward building empathy, trust, and friendship.
4. Be helpful.
You’re smart. Your knowledge and expertise are valuable. Share what you know. People will appreciate it. Just be sure you don’t come off as a know-it-all. That goes back to asking questions and listening. Twitter is a great place to showcase your thinking and build a following. Being genuinely helpful is a way to do so that will be appreciated.
5. Be yourself, an equal to others.
As much of an expert as you may be, it’s easy to begin dominating a conversation. A dose of humility is a good thing. Twitter is casual, act accordingly. People need to get to know you, like you, and trust you before your relationship turns to business.
Twitter is a good social medium – not a particularly good broadcast media. Unfortunately, it seems to have devolved into a lot of broadcasting and very little social interaction. The people who are really benefiting from using Twitter are the ones having conversations. Yes, you can use it to point people to your latest blog post, great articles, and awesome cat videos. But try to spend most of your time meeting people and having meaningful conversations. That will move you toward meeting your fundraising goals.
Twitter illustration by Pete Simon