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Twitter for Good (Claire Diaz-Ortiz): “Back to School” Book Report by Autumn Walden

September 29, 2011

Autumn Walden

This is the third in a series of “Back to School” book reports by members of our team. We selected books based on their potential to inform not only our own work in identifying high-impact philanthropic opportunities, but also donors interested in improving their philanthropic impact. We hope this series helps make some of our own learning transparent so that others may benefit.

This week’s “Back to School” book report on Twitter for Good is by Autumn Walden, Program Manager and social media consultant at the Center. It provides insight into the growing trend of using social media for philanthropic awareness and engagement.

Does Twitter matter?

“I don’t get Twitter. Twitter is just noise. I don’t need to know what someone ate for lunch. Twitter is stupid.”

If you are a donor and have said these things about the social networking tool Twitter, you are not alone. I have heard these comments and more from friends, colleagues, and family members. However, there are an increasing number of examples and insights into how many organizations in the social sector use Twitter for social good—for example, Melinda Gates (@MelindaGates), wife of Bill Gates (@BillGates) and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation), has started tweeting.

Even though it is aimed at providing how-to guidance for the “newbie”, I believe that Twitter For Good still requires a working knowledge of other social networking and media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Youtube, as well as a general familiarity with how information is currently shared on the web. I also don’t agree with some of the recommendations, such as taking the freewheeling and informal “bite-the-bullet, let it all hang out, fail fast” approach of rapper Kanye West, with tweets that contain typos and ramblings of his lifestyle.

However, the author, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who leads social innovation, philanthropy, and causes at Twitter, does lay out a seemingly simple “TWEET” framework that donors and nonprofits can use to better organize how they manage the process of using twitter to enhance their work. Towards the end of the book, I found it most helpful to see how the TWEET framework could be used to achieve specific goals in communicating with a target audience.

Target. Write. Engage. Explore. Track.

Why should I use Twitter?

Diaz-Ortiz starts off by showing three common ways that one might identify a “target” or goal for their Twitter use:

Twitter as an information channel: You can send/receive updates on your specific areas of interest in the form of research, pictures, info graphics, podcasts, videos, and links to web resources. For example (not in book): As a donor interested in child health, you can follow @UNICEF to get the latest on-the-ground information on the drought and famine in Kenya:

Twitter as a personalized channel: You can engage in conversation with other donors, CEOs, nonprofit staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries. For example (not in book): As a donor interested in education, you could follow and even engage in a public twitter dialogue with Melinda Gates (@melindagates), Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten), and the New York City Parents Union (@nycparentsunion):

Twitter as a fundraising channel: If you are a donor passionate about a cause, you can fundraise and/or donate using Twitter. For example (not in book): In 2009, you might remember the race between CNN (@cnn) and Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) on who could reach 1,000,000 followers first. The winner of that race would donate 10,000 bednets to distribute through Malaria No More (@malarianomore) for World Malaria Day.

Who is using Twitter for social good, and how are they using it?

The book provides detailed examples of how CEOs and founders of nonprofits have used Twitter to raise money for their organization, highlight the impact of their work, and provide life-saving assistance during a disaster. In addition to applying the TWEET framework, Diaz-Ortiz suggests many other ways you can tap into the connectivity by using twitter features such as memes, hashtags, and lists.

Although the book encourages you to visit for more resources and examples, at the time of this writing they seem to be a bit scarce on the website. I’d personally be more inclined to visit Beth Kanter’s Blog (who is mentioned briefly in the book) for how-to resources and case studies. You can visit to learn about causes supported by Twitter itself.

Of course, I’d also strongly encourage you to contact our Center to give us feedback on how we can use our @impactsp2 twitter and other accounts to better provide guidance on high impact philanthropy.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 10:53 am

    Twitter is what you make out of it. I personally enjoy the way you can connect with people that you might otherwise not have a chance to meet. It puts communication with people right at your fingertips. I might have to pick up ‘Twitter for Good.’

  2. September 29, 2011 4:12 pm

    OK,OK,OK….I will tweet more!! : >

  3. October 2, 2011 3:06 am

    Even though I am not enamored with Social Networking, there is no denying the potential of these social connection tools and their value to businesses, and non profits. The ability to get your message to your targeted audience whenever you decide, without having to buy postage or staff a phone bank is a monumental change in how we will socialize and do business for the foreseeable future. As an educator that sits on the board of a non-profit, I am starting to get warm to it.

  4. October 4, 2011 9:35 am

    Useful and informative article about social networking. Thanks for sharing.

  5. impactsp2walden permalink*
    October 5, 2011 12:10 pm

    Thanks for your comments, Nick, Heather, and John. You might be interested in a recent Wall Street Journal article on how scientists and other researchers are using twitter for data mining, “Decoding Our Chatter”:

    From earthquakes to finance to politics…

  6. October 12, 2011 5:19 pm

    As I observed, aside from facebook, Twitter is the next biggest thing for all people around the world. I think those factors makes twitter matter. To the fact that all of the genre’s of people are in their, you can world widely target your market. But i really don’t know if Twitter and Facebook will remain forever.

  7. October 18, 2011 10:05 pm

    I used to be one of the people who believed that Twitter was “just noise” but finally took the plunge and signed up a while ago. Its amazing, so much good information being shared and while it is noisy filtering through it to find the gold isnt that hard at all.

  8. October 19, 2011 7:14 am

    Twitter is a great social networking platform, however, it’s important to get your strategy sorted first. I meet many business owners who have very ‘mixed’ feelings about Twitter, and I feel much of this is because they feel they should use it, but don’t have a clear plan or outcome. So I think it’s important to get your strategy sorted first, before you dive in. A great article.

  9. January 9, 2012 3:04 am

    We are planning a foundation to spin off of our company once we are profitable. Being dedicated to Twitter and other social media is essential and can certainly make a difference in our success. The main issue I see with it is dedicated the time, but I think that comes down to discipline. I am going to get the book and see and improve our teams performance on Twitter.

  10. January 23, 2012 10:29 am

    I agree with Andrew about maintaining a strategy first. If you’re a business, it’s the best way to ensure that you get exactly what you want from it. Personally I find it a great tool for connecting with like minded people and sharing information that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to share elsewhere. Thanks for the post Autumn!

  11. August 19, 2012 8:28 pm

    I have been thinking about this post for a long time and realize that I could use twitter to help my students with their test prep assignments. I can use twitter for good.

  12. November 16, 2012 9:06 am

    I was really skeptic about Twitter at first, because I wasn’t able to realize its full importance. However, before a couple of months I decided to give it a go and bought a book similar to this one. Right now Twitter makes most of my website’s traffic and I am constantly expanding my follower base.

    Otherwise, I think the book your wrote about is really good for everyone, who is looking to get started with Twitter promotion.


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