Twitter Lessons Learned
Posted by Allison Fine on February 23, 2009
With more than a few examples of activist efforts primarily organized or powered by Twitter, I thought it would be a nice time to take a deep breath and see what we’re learning so far. The efforts that I am specifically looking at include Twestival, and Tweetsgiving and Beth’s successful effort to raise tuition for students in Cambodia. Some of these lessons also reflect my own experience from Twitter Vote Report, although ironically, we did most of our organizing using a PBWiki not Twitter!
I want to build on reflections from Beth on these types of events:
- It’s not about the reaching a large number at once, but identifying the right six or seven influencers who can re-tweet your message and have their networks respond
- Small gifts, but incorporate some incentives or recognition for larger gifts
- Have universal human theme or tell stories
- Have a reporting page or widget that shows your real-time results
- Incorporate something visual that can also spread across Twitter
- It isn’t just about Twitter – remember you need multi-channels – blogger outreach, email, organizing a team of people to reach to their networks, private messaging, phone calls, etc
- Use a hash tag and have that be part of the retweet so your campaign can benefit from extra visibility from the twitter trending
- Don’t have your first foray onto Twitter be your campaign ask, build social capital first.
Here are a few more thoughts based on efforts like Twestvial and Theetsgiving that scaled fundraising significantly using Twitter:
- These efforts to date have been spearheaded by very influential volunteers. People who are very fluent in the social media toolkit and have large networks of their own.
- Very short time frames for campaigns are imperative. All of these efforts have been spearheaded by volunteers with no infrastructure or staff to support their efforts.. Any longer than a few weeks and everyone would be too exhausted and have to focus on their regular work;
- Very simple asks are critically important. $10 for clean water. $20 for college tuition for a Cambodian student. Simple, easy to understand, a universal need – water, education, food, etc.
- The role of the nonprofit organization, if there is one, is complicated in these efforts. There definitely is a role for them, but to date, it’s been a bit muddled as to where the volunteers end and where the organization begins. Since all of these efforts were spearheaded by volunteers, it has left the organizations in a rather passive role. But there are places where organizations are needed to step up:
- Financial accountability. I think efforts to raise money for nonprofits should go through services like Network for Good to provide donors with an assurance that they are legitimate nonprofits. Anyone person or organization can use PayPal and it’s just a matter of time before some Twitter effort is used to scam people that way. Network for Good, Global Giving, Causes on Facebook, Chipin are creating norms for giving oneline and they should be followed for Twitter efforts as well.
- Transparency. Volunteers may not have the capacity or wherewithal to post the process and structure of a giving campaign. An organization should. I’d like to be able to go their website, read about the campaign, who is responsible for what and how funding will be recieved and used. Of course, I’d also like to see the 990s and board minutes and a host of other documents on these websites as I wrote about last week!
- Follow up. Volunteers really are exhausted at the end of these campaigns. Staff may be too, however, they are paid, whether they like it or not!, to continue these efforts. Organizations need to become the keepers of the institutional memories. They need to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Frankly, this has been a great difficulty for Twitter Vote Report for just this reason; there wasn’t an institution to help facilitate a post-event reflection session. Organizations can also more systematically reflect on who the influencers were in a given campaign and how they operated. This is a critically important area of network analysis that needs more data to help us all learn how to identify, activate and build upon the role of influencers.
This is just a beginning of some reflections on Twitter as a tool for activism. There will be more coming in the next months, years as these efforts continue to evolve and unfold.
This entry was posted on February 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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