I took some advice from Rich Brooks at Flyte several months back and focused my efforts on three social media sites: Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. I'm active on all three now, but the one I got on to last is the one I'm spending the most time on these days: Twitter. (You can check my most recent "tweet" in the red box on the sidebar. Click on the arrows to see previous tweets.)
I like Twitter for two reasons:
It's a natural "shortening" of blogging. I like to blog, and I like it even more when I'm limited to 140 characters. Not all topics need a long post. Twitter is perfect for a quote, brief snippet, factoid or update.
I feel like I'm among my people, or my Tweeples. It's hard for me to get on Facebook and not hear the faint giggling of a teenage girl in my ears. I just feel old and out of my element. Not that Facebook doesn't have its merits, mind you. Linkedin is interesting too, but a bit static. A bit like watching paint dry. But Twitter is full of mostly interesting, curious, ambitious, smart, passionate and talkative people. Hell, that's where I want to be!
But I didn't just join Twitter to blog more and to make new friends, I want to use it as a tool to drive my cause marketing success within and without my nonprofit. Here's how I'm using Twitter to develop more relationships, to promote my expertise in the field and to raise more money for causes.
To follow more business people. There are a fair number of company men and women on Twitter that I think in the long run will lead to key players and to better relationships. Even more plentiful on Twitter is the number of agencies and firms that work with businesses where potential synergies might exist. While I haven't inked any pacts yet because of Twitter, and don't expect to soon, I can see how it can be a powerful tool that evaporates barriers and bypasses gatekeepers.
To connect with other cause marketers. I've found a bunch of new people to learn from on Twitter. @cfnoble and @jleslie from Kompolt, @lotay from Blackcardcircle.com, Cone alum @brianreich and @michael_hoffman of See3 Communications, @nedra (social and cause marketing) to name a few. Of course, I've also found old rivals friends like @paulrjones. I've learned something from each of these people and they've been a resource to me in their own way.
To learn more about social media. Social media will be an important part of a lot industries in years ahead, including cause marketing. I know it has and will play an important role in cause marketing events like Halloween Town. The great news is that all the social media experts are on Twitter. In the nonprofit world, there's @johnhaydon, @engagejoe, @bbravo, and @kanter. On the for-profit side I follow @chrisbrogan, @problogger, @johncass, @chrisgarrett, @steverubel @therichbrooks and am learning how to use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Delicious and a lot of other tools more productively to achieve my cause marketing goals.
The question I often get about Twitter from newbies is how do you use it well. After a short time on Twitter I'm following 250 people and at this very moment have 689 unread "tweets" to sort through. (Poor @chrisbrogan is following 22,029. How many unread tweets do you think he has?)
Twitter can be a bit overwhelming, and you need a system for organizing your tweets so they don't take over your life. The key is to accept that not every tweet is equal or a must-read or a read-now. Here's how I manage the deluge of tweets I get every day.
Tweetdeck. I began by just reading tweets at Twitter, but didn't stick with that too long. I upgraded to Twhirl, which is a simple, useful Twitter application, especially if you're a casual user and/or don't follow a lot of people. But for the serious user, you can't beat Tweetdeck, and for one important reason: Groups. Tweetdeck allows you to segment your incoming "tweets" by groups for easier reading.
Groups. My groups are pretty simple. "A Tweets" are must reads and include many of the people mentioned above. I read them first. If I have more time, I move to my second group, "B Tweets." Next is a group just for my "Subscriptions" (e.g. NYT, Ad Age, WSJ, Bostonist, etc.). Interestingly, following publications on Twitter has also allowed me to clear out most of my Bloglinesaccount so I can do most of my reading from Tweetdeck (Having these two services also gave me the courage to cancel my subscriptions to the Boston Globe, NYT and WSJ). The final group is "All Tweets." This is where the great unwashed go. If I get to this group, great. If I don't, I'm probably not missing much. Of course, Tweeples are constantly being promoted or demoted based on the quality of their tweets! (Hint: if you have a cat, don't tweet about it).
Favorites. Tweetdeck gives you a "Favorites" folder where you can keep tweets you want to read later. If I do come across an interesting tweet I just "favorite" it until I have the time to read it. This allows me to keep on moving and not get bogged down.
My own tweet output is pretty modest. I probably average about ten a day. Most of my tweets have to do with cause marketing and philanthropy, but I like to have fun, mainly with @nedra, and tweet something that's just interesting, unusual or makes me laugh. My best advice for Twitter is try to be useful. People on Twitter are just like you: busy, smart people who are trying to get things done. Show them the way.