presentations, Twitter

The Twitter Rule: Less Broadcasting, More Conversation

2 Comments 18 October 2010

image courtesy of Shawn Campbell

The single most frequent question that I get from nonprofit professionals and organizations that want to use Twitter is “how do I get started?” The bottom line: always follow The Twitter Rule.

The Twitter Rule: Less Broadcasting, More Conversation

It is not intuitive to barge into conversations. It is not intuitive to talk with strangers. It is not intuitive to create conversation when you are used to broadcasting. It is not intuitive to be the personal representation of an organization instead of the mouthpiece behind the logo. Twitter forces you out from behind your logo, into conversations with unknown persons, and to initiate conversation in order to create deeper engagement.

I presented a free webinar for Nonprofit Webinars this week about The Twitter Rule, but more than that, about how to make sense of Twitter. The webinar covered how to develop a Twitter strategy that utilizes The Twitter Rule for success. Delving deeper, the slide deck (at the bottom of this blog post) includes:

  • An overview of engagement theories (social technographics, participation inequality, ladder of engagement)
  • Mastering the @tweet (who sees what when you send an @message…and who doesn’t)
  • Strategies for following the Twitter Rule
  • The Twitter profile – in front of or behind the avatar, or a mashup on both?
  • Engaging Twitter practices
  • Twitter etiquette
  • Researching Twitter influence and networks to help you find the right connections
  • Resource sheet of Twitter tools

If you fall back on the traditional (intuitive) marketing style of broadcasting (Webinar today! Call your representative! Save the whales!), then your Twitter strategy will fail. If you build friendships, conversation and trust, you are building up social capital.

If you spend the time to create relationships through conversation and passing along trusted and useful information, your Twitter followers will happily retweet, respond, and act. Why? Because you’ve built up your social capital first, through conversation, before asking your followers to do something for you. Those are the results of The Twitter Rule in action.

For more about getting started with Twitter, you might find these other posts useful: How the Jewish Agency Uses Twitter to Meaningfully Connect, Why Do You Participate in Twitter Chats, and The Case of the 4,000 Twitter Followers who Don’t Care.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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