Don't ignore Twitter
It's a huge, growing network of people who can really help your organisation.
Start shouting in an empty room
Nobody will follow you unless you are saying something - so start tweeting even if nobody is listening at first.
Tweet every day, several times
Twitter is fast-moving, so tweet often or your followers may miss important information from you
Respond to messages
Twitter demands interaction, so respond to interesting tweets, and reply to every tweet aimed at you
Retweet interesting tweets
Don't just talk about yourself. Twitter is non-commercial, so users will ignore you if you treat it as an "advertising medium".
It's a mistake to ignore Twitter
Lots of people assume Twitter is full of people microblogging about the minutiae of their lives, with no relevance to anybody. And they're right: Twitter has a lot of that.
But it's also full of people forwarding links to websites and interesting content, and making instant recommendations to hundreds or thousands of other followers.
You need to be there because just a couple of tweets per day can lead an extra 10,000 people per month to your website.
Twitter is a very powerful tool if you use it right. So read more to see our strategy for building a Twitter presence.
A strategy for building a Twitter presence
If you're not familiar with Twitter, join now (it's free) - but join as a private individual at first. Don't start tweeting as your organisation until you understand the Twitter community better.
- Start tweeting things immediately, even if nobody is following you. They'll never follow you if you don't tweet, so you have to start by "shouting in an empty room". Your audience will arrive when there's some noise!
- Follow a few famous people, and look at what they're tweeting. Just go to Stephen Fry's page and click "follow", and his tweets will appear in your twitter timeline. His existing followers will tweet things too, which he might "retweet" (i.e. "forward" them to his followers). If you see somebody interesting, follow them too.
- You can also search tweets by "hashtag". This is a keyword that begins with a #, such as #football or #charity. Look for subjects you're interested in, and follow people who write about them. You can unfollow them later if they aren't right for you.
- Once you start following a few "ordinary" people (i.e. the non-famous) they'll probably follow you back. Then your own tweets might get a response. You'll see how you can quickly gain a couple of dozen followers.
- Once you have a feel for Twitter, it's informality, and the way it works, use that knowledge to set up an official Twitter account for your organisation. It may feel like you wasted your time with the "personal" twitter account, but you have gained important knowledge, and you may be able to encourage your personal followers to also follow your organisation.
- Tweet every day, without fail. Don't only promote your organisation, because the Twitter community doesn't like blatant commercial activity. Instead send links to things which are tangentially related to your organisation. For example if you are a charity helping people with disabilities, find interesting articles about disabilities on other people's websites, and tweet links to those pages. You will find you get followed by people with similar interests, who are likely to respond to an occasional promotion of your own site. On Twitter people with similar interests gravitate together.
- When you talk about your organisation, make sure you have something to say. Don't just repeat variations on "visit our website". You need to make sure you have fresh content on your site at least 2-3 times per month, so that you can justifiably tell people about it. But keep on tweeting "general interest" information every day - if possible several times per day.
- Learn to tweet important links at the best moment. Twitter is an instant, active website. If you miss a tweet, it's unlikely anybody will go looking for it. Tweets usually have a 15 minute active lifespan, and then people have moved on to other things. So don't send your important tweets in the middle of an important football match, or nobody will see it. Tweet just as people are getting home from work, or on the train home (huge numbers tweet via their smartphone). Or perhaps around the time parents will have just sent the kids to bed, and are catching up online. You'll get a better response if you time it right for your audience.
- Remember it'll take time. For most people, it'll take around a year to get 200 followers. But those 200 followers probably also have 200 followers each, so if you can get them to "retweet" (i.e. forward your tweet), you'll immediately get up to 40,000 people seeing your tweet. And that means potentially 40,000 new visitors to your site. So it's well worth investing 5 minutes a few times per day, and building an active presence on Twitter.