Twitter’s Self-serve, Low-cost Advertising: Could it Work for Your NPO?

Twitter is launching a self-serve advertising option for small business. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this tool can also help your nonprofit organization. Here’s how it works, according to this writeup about the service in Mashable

  • Use your American Express card to purchase advertising credits on Twitter.
  • Twitter takes your more popular tweets (items that have been shared, for example) and posts them as “promoted tweets”.
    • Promoted tweets are posted to the feeds of other Twitter users whose online activity suggests they would be interested in your organization.
  • You account is charged only if those users act on your “promoted tweet” – i.e. retweeting it to their followers.

Why it’s good – In a word, exposure. Twitter’s new advertising tool takes your most popular tweets and shares them with other Twitter users who are likely, based on their activity, to appreciate what you’re posting. On top of that, you are not charged unless those Twitter users take action on your “promoted tweet.” In other words, they have to share or possibly “favorite” your promoted tweet. If they don’t, your account balance remains untouched and available for the next promoted tweet.

This tool should connect your message with new potential supporters, thereby expanding your exposure to an audience with little effort on your part. Of course, you do then have to cultivate those relationships once the initial impression is made (which is already be part of your social media strategy, right?).

Why it’s not good – The best relationships start organically, without prodding or promotion. You’re most likely to develop a relationship that results in support of your organization through good old-fashioned conversation and content-sharing on Twitter. That said, I could see promoted tweets as being a great step toward starting those conversations.

Like everything else, your communication strategy should be about more than a single tweet, or update, or blog post, or video. I believe “promoted tweets” or advertising on Twitter can be an tremendously effective tool for introducing new supporters to your mission. However, if you don’t have a strategy in place for keeping those new supporters engaged, then the money spent on advertising will ultimately be wasted.

For more on social media in philanthropy, visit

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