Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

5 Tricks and Tweets for Using Twitter for Social Good

October 31, 2012

I was riding the metro on my morning commute the other day, when I overheard two young siblings arguing over Halloween costumes.

“I want to be a Twitter bird,” said the little boy.

“No! I already called dibs on the Twitter costume!” retorted his older sister.

Yes, you read that correctly: A Twitter bird. Or you might know it as that little blue icon next to every tweet.

A Twitter bird? I thought. What happened to the traditionally frightening Halloween costumes of ghosts or vampires or even Snooki?

And then I got deep. Social media platforms like Twitter can be pretty scary for many newbies. It’s easy to find yourself intimated and haunted by the number of followers, or inundation of retweets, or level of finesse needed for just the right hastag.

Well, whether you’re a tweewbie or the patriarch of the “Twitterati,” here are five scarily easy (yet highly effective) tips for you to master using Twitter for social good.

 

TRICK 1: Jaw-dropping stats.

Your followers are more likely to re-tweet and share impactful facts and figures. Combine these nuggets of social good-ness with shortened links to a related blog post, video or article, if space permits. Also, consider your audience when gathering tweetable statistics. If you have a more global presence, share figures with a broader appeal.

 

TRICK 2: Quotable quotes.

Similar to facts and figures, powerful quotes are likely to garner more shares. Use quotations from thought-leaders of your cause; and if that person is on Twitter, be sure to tag them in the tweet. Incorporate this technique to inspire and recruit new supporters.

 

TRICK 3: Just ask.

Simple enough, right? We easily forget that supporters are following us because (hopefully) they are interested in what we have to say. Sometimes we just have to ask – whether a retweet, or response or low-dollar donation – and we just might receive.

 

TRICK 4: Twitter Hangouts.

Social media is all about engagement. And what’s a better way to engage with your followers than in a structured chat with similar folks invested in your cause? Participate in Twitter chats to identify and cultivate relationships with vocal Tweeters. If there isn’t an established Twitter hangout in your area of interest, consider developing your own.

 

TRICK 5: Be Gracious.

You have to give a little to get a little in the world of Twitter. Often we find users that are overprotected and limited with the number of Tweets they are dishing out. While you should definitely avoid spamming, take time to thank your followers. Shout-outs, responses, and retweets go a long way.

What do you think? What other Twitter techniques work best for you to spread buzz around your cause?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I am not sporting the Twitter bird costume this year for Halloween. I’m going old school. I’m dressing up as “MySpace.” 

 
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