By Jeff Kline


How To Develop A Twitter Marketing Strategy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Football is a game of strength, speed…and strategy. That’s why a coach doesn’t just send 11 random players onto the field, cross his fingers, and hope for the best. If he hopes to lead his team to success, he needs a strategic game plan and a carefully composed playbook.

The same goes for Twitter. You can’t jump blindly into the game and expect to win. You need a strategy that takes into consideration your organization’s overall marketing goals and how Twitter can be used to accomplish those goals.

In today’s blog post, learn how to put together a Twitter marketing strategy from start to finish.


Step 1: Look At Your Overall Marketing Goals


Every marketing activity you perform, from tweeting and texting to cold-calling and door-to-door fundraising, should be done for the sole purpose of accomplishing your organization’s end goals.  

For the first step in developing your Twitter marketing strategy, identify and list out your overall goals. Some of the most common goals for nonprofits are:

  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Increase and retain membership.
  • Increase non-dues revenue and donations.


Step 2: Define Your Twitter Objectives


Your objectives are what you plan to accomplish on Twitter in support of your organization-wide goals. Twitter objectives will vary from one organization to another, as every organization has different goals. But here are some examples of what your nonprofit’s Twitter objectives might be, based on the goals listed above:

Goal: Increase brand awareness

  • Objective 1: Build a following—increase number of Twitter followers by 200 in 3 months.
  • Objective 2: Amplify messaging—receive 5 retweets per week.
  • Objective 3: Drive traffic to the website—receive 100 clickthroughs per week.

Goal: Increase and retain membership

  • Objective 1: Drive 10 “Become a member” form submissions per month.
  • Objective 2: Interact with current and potential members 10 times per day.

Goal: Increase non-dues revenue and donations.

  • Objective 1: Drive 15 “Donate” form submissions per month.
  • Objective 2: Drive 30 “Event Registration” form submissions per month.

In order to really drive success, be sure your Twitter objectives are measurable, obtainable and set within a specific timeframe. An objective to “increase our number of Twitter followers” won’t cut it. But the objective to “increase our number of Twitter followers by 200 over the next three months” is measurable (200 followers), obtainable (reasonable number of new followers) and includes a timeframe (3 months).


Step 3: Identify and Understand Your Target Audience


Once you’ve set your objectives, think about who you’ll need to interact with in order to accomplish these objectives. Define your target audience, then find them on Twitter and follow them. Observe their Twitter behavior (are they frequent users?), figure out what subject matter interests them, and look at the users they follow and retweet. 

Gain an understanding of what will resonate with them—this will be valuable when you begin trying to engage and interact with them.


Step 4: Choose Your Tactics


The next step is to create a plan of tactics that will resonate with your target audience in order to help you accomplish your Twitter objectives.

Get started by listing out all of your Twitter objectives. Under each objective, begin brainstorming tactics that could help to accomplish that particular objective. (As you do this, keep your target audience in mind.) Edit and refine this list over time, eliminating tactics that don’t seem to have any effect. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many tactics—develop a reasonable number of tactics that can be carried out by a single member of your marketing team.

Below, I have provided a list of tactic ideas that can be applied to some of the aforementioned objectives.

To increase your number of Twitter followers:

  • Follow users who might be interested in your organization: your existing supporters, members of your target audience and other nonprofits. There’s a good chance they’ll follow you back.
  • Tweet links to third party articles and blog posts that are relevant to your target audience. This will establish you as a valuable resource for information—a Twitter user worth following.
  • Use popular industry-specific hashtags to gain the attention of relevant users.
  • Retweet other users’ content. They’ll receive an email notification and be flattered that you shared their tweet.
  • Run a contest. Ask current members to tweet why they love your organization, along with a hashtag (like #ILoveJax), in order to be entered into a prize drawing.

To get more retweets:

  • The key here is to figure out what your audience considers to be “highly shareable content.” These are some tactics I’ve found to be susceptible to retweets:
  • Ask questions.
  • Tweet quotes.
  • Share pictures and videos.
  • Use fun, well known hashtags, like #FF (Follow Friday) and #TBT (Throw Back Thursday)
  • Create your own hashtag, like #CoffeeBreakTrivia or #MemberPicOfTheDay

To drive traffic to your website:

  • Share links to your blog posts. You can post the same link more than once—just alternate between tweeting the title of a blog post and tweeting an excerpt from the blog post.
  • Share links to your news articles.

To earn “Become a member” form submissions:

Tweet informative information that has to do with membership to your organization, and include a link. Just simply saying, "Click here to join now," won't make much of an impact. The key is to share a blog post about "benefits of joining," include a link to the blog post, and have the blog post lead them to the form. 

Some other ideas:

  • Tweet a link to your form, along with a fact or statistic describing the value of joining your organization.
  • Quotes tend to have a high retweet rate, so share a member testimonial. Don’t forget to squeeze in a link back to your website!

To interact with current and potential members:

An “interaction” occurs when someone retweets or favorites your post, or when someone mentions you in a tweet using the @ symbol. The best tactics to accomplish this objective are to tweet interesting content that will incite an interaction, and to always reply back when someone reaches out to you. Specific tactics include:

  • Use Twitter Search to identify people who might be interested in joining your organization, and reach out to them. Provide them with a link to one of your best blog posts.
  • Encourage your followers to share photos of themselves participating with your organization.
  • Encourage your followers to ask questions. Then you can promptly follow up with an answer.
  • Always reply back when someone reaches out to you. Thank users who address you in a positive manner. Address negative comments immediately and publicly. 
  • Follow the above mentioned tactics for getting more retweets. 

To earn “Donate” form submissions:

Evoking feelings of compassion among your Twitter followers is important for gaining donations. “It can be hard to make a Twitter timeline feel ‘human’,” says Susan Gunelius in 5 Nonprofits Using Twitter Right. Hard, but not impossible. Here are some ideas to get you thinking outside the box:

  • Take a look at how the Red Cross and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark ran a highly successful matching gift campaign.
  • Share statistics that demonstrate your organization’s need for donations. (Don’t forget to include a link to the form.)
  • Live-tweet the status of donations. (For example: “We're just $250 away from reaching our goal! Donate at”)
  • Use photographs to evoke deep emotion. The UN Refugee Agency tweets a new photo each day, usually a powerful image of a refugee’s struggle or the agency’s work. Sometimes photographs speak louder than words.
  • Share a YouTube video. This is another tactic used by the UN Refugee Agency, and it makes quite an impact.

To get more people to sign up for events:

  • Promote your event far in advance on Twitter, and include a link to the registration form
  • Use the @ symbol to mention people who will be speaking at the event. Ask them (in a direct message) to retweet your post to their followers.
  • Live-tweet during events to drive excitement for future events.
  • Share photos and videos of events.


If you need some more reading material to jumpstart your tactics brainstorming, check out last week’s post: 10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofits


So there you have it—a blueprint (and a pretty good head start!) for putting together a winning Twitter strategy. The image below illustrates how your marketing strategy should be formatted when you write it out.

How To Develop A Twitter Marketing Strategy


UP NEXT: 10 Facebook Tips for Nonprofits


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