With 1.2 million followers just hours after officially joining Twitter as @POTUS, President Barack Obama, made history as the fastest growing Twitter account and the first sitting President to join the social network (former Presidents including Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush boast accounts as well).
The President isn't a stranger of Twitter, his namesake handle @BarackObama, which has over 59 million followers, is actually run by the Organizing for Action staff and previously used for his campaign including some tweets signed by himself, "- bo." This account is synonymously being confused for the President's "official account" (This conversation has been brought up both times I was invited to the White House and sat with their Office of Digital Strategy.)
In fact, Obama was one of the first politicians to recognize the potential of social media in communicating with voters which led to an interesting 2008 campaign and even more so in 2012 as acting President. (See here.)
In the nonprofit world, social media can work similarly as you "campaign" for donor engagement, appreciation, and mission-centric soundbites meant to maximize your organization's exposure and success by having a platform to consistently sell your mission.
1.) When it feels right, do it.
Nonprofit executive directors can provide a face to your organization's work, a unique viewpoint, and serve as a thought leader in your industry.
Like many things, it's never too late to start or join the noisy world of social media, especially when your director brings valuable information to the designated industry Twitter chat; allowing a human:human interaction among those engaged.
In fact, President Obama's first tweet was short and playful, adding another glimpse into the leader of the free world's daily life.
Whether your Director is tech-savvy and in their middle fifties or a distinguished community leader whose rolodex still sits next to his office phone, the learning curve of Twitter is simple and with a few hours of practice, can offer a huge reward when potential donors seek out the exec. director's digital footprint.
2.) Take charge of your messaging (as much as you can)
There may be days (unfortunately) where your nonprofit is scrutinized for endorsing political bills, adding an action initiative to your mission structure, or other various mishappenings but your opportunity to own up to mistakes and showcase the truth comes by leading with transparency.
We get that exec. director's have extraordinarily busy schedules but they also have (arguably) the most tweet-friendly job in their office by traveling to conventions, exploring ways to advance their mission, and giving a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to be a successful nonprofit (long nights and countless meetings included).
3.) Engage in conversation with similar industry leaders
In his third tweet as @POTUS, President Obama replied to former President Bill Clinton with a charismatic and comedic response to Clinton's welcome tweet.
If the exec. director's organization has a mission that includes advancing tactical urbanism among impoverished neighborhoods , search keywords and hashtags like #tacturb, urban planning, poverty, and other related terms to help find other exec. director's in that space.
Check to see that they tweet often and bring a unique perspective to the conversation, then click the follow button to start the online tweetship.
Many causes host monthly twitter chats on various topics where you can bring valuable expertise 140 characters at a time. (See below for the large list of nonprofit Twitter chats.)
Here’s a whole bunch of chats for nonprofits courtesy of Kivi Miller. If you’re in education or health, be sure to dive into the special directories listed in the "Other" section.
#AssnChat | Tuesdays @ 1pm CT (associations)
#CommBuild | Tuesdays @ 1pm ET (community building)
#FundChat | Wednesdays @ 12pm ET (fundraising)
#GrantChat | Tuesdays @ 12pm ET (grants)
#Npcons | third Tuesday @ 1pm PT (nonprofit consultants)
#Npmc | last Thursday @ 1pm ET (nonprofit marketing)
#Socentchat | Wednesdays @ 1pm ET (social entrepreneurship)
#Startinggood | Wednesdays @ 1pm ET (crowdfunding)
#Ttvolmgrs | Thursdays all day (volunteering)
Technology & Media
#Blogchat | Sundays @ 8pm CT (blogging)
#Bufferchat | Wednesdays @ 12pm ET (social media)
#cmgrchat | Wednesdays @ 2pm ET (community managers)
#cmworld | Tuesdays @ 12pm ET (content marketing)
#culturechat | Every other Thursday @ 1pm ET (generations and culture)
#JournChat | Mondays @ 7pm CT (pr and journalism)
#linkedinchat | Tuesdays @ 8pm ET (LinkedIn)
#muckedup | Tuesdays @ 8pm ET (pr and journalism)
#nywicichat | Every other Wednesday @ 8pm ET (NY Women in Communications)
#pinchat | Wednesdays @ 9pm (Pinterest)
#smchat | Wednesdays @ 1pm ET (social media)
#addictionchat | Wednesdays @ 9pm ET (addiction)
#AEDchat | monthly @ various times and dates (eating disorders)
#Agingchat | second Wednesday of every other month @ 4pm ET (aging)
#ALZChat | Mondays @ 3pm ET (Alzheimer’s and dementia)
#FoodFri | Fridays @ 1pm EST (food advocacy)
#WellnessWed | Wednesdays @ 11am PST (health and wellness)
#artsedchat | second Sundays @ 8:30pm ET (arts education)
#musedchat | Mondays @ 5pm ET (music education)
#econchat | 2nd and 4th Sundays @ 9pm ET (economics and finance)
#edtechchat | Mondays @ 8pm ET (educational technology)
#Edchat | Tuesdays @ 12pm ET (education)
#kidscancodechat | Tuesdays @ 8pm ET (programming in education)
#spedchat | Tuesdays @ 9pm ET (special education)
#sschat | Mondays @ 7pm ET (social studies)
#chsocm | Tuesdays @ 9pm EST (church social media)
#spiritchat | Sundays 9am EST (spirituality)
Other Twitter Chat Lists
Healthcare chats: http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/tweet-chats/ (H/T Chritina Lizaso @btrfly12)
Education chats: https://sites.google.com/site/twittereducationchats/education-chat-calendar (H/T Elana Leoni @elanaleoni of Edutopia @edutopia)
Google Docs: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhisaMy5TGiwcnVhejNHWnZlT3NvWFVPT3Q4NkIzQVE&hl=en#gid=52