How Nonprofits Might Use Twitter

In the next few years, we’re going to be hearing even more about so-called microblogging. So it’s not a bad idea to start reading about it now. Besides, many organizations are using microblogging with products such as Twitter to great effect (follow me on Twitter, if you’re curious).

An article in BusinessWeek talks about how airlines are using Twitter to handle customer support. Look at this example from the article:

Christofer Hoff tweeted his displeasure with Southwest (LUV) on Apr. 28, when his flight was delayed and his luggage disappeared. The next day he received the following message from Southwest: “Sorry to hear about your flight—weather was terrible in the NE. Hope you give us a 2nd chance to prove that Southwest = Awesomeness.” In a blog post about the incident, Hoff wrote that it was “cool and frightening at the same time.”

Think about what parallels you might be able to draw between Southwest and your own organization. Can you use a microblogging site to …

  • Notify your community about a successful fund-raising effort? (E.g., “Hurray! We just hit the $8000 mark! Help us get to $9000.”)
  • Update volunteers on an upcoming opportunity? (E.g., “Friends of the Burlington Library: we still need four people for the book sale. Bring a friend on Saturday.”)
  • Bring about social action in real time? (E.g., “Help us protest for fair wages. We’re meeting at 4th & Filmore. Bring your T-shirts and pickets.”)

Twitter or another microblogging site might not be for you and your organization. But it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself. Zappos (the company that sells shoes online) has a handy quick-start guide to Twitter, which is a pretty good intro for anyone.