Associations using Twitter

Last week, Bob Farrace, director of publications for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, asked this Twitter question on the ASAE Technology Listserv.

Are any associations out there maintaining an official association
Twitterstream? I’m considering setting one up and I’m looking for some
successful practices that will let me use it for more than “Early bird
registration ends today…” messages.

Yes. There are a bunch of associations with an official presence on Twitter. Why? See the BONUS below. In addition to the association Twitterstreams I already knew, a quick association search on Twellow pointed me to some of the most followed association Twitterstreams. Having a large number of followers does not necessarily translate into success on Twitter, but for these groups, it’s a good indication that they’re doing something right.

NTEN – Nonprofit Technology Network
It’s not too surprising that one of the most effective Twitter presences comes from the Nonprofit Technology Network. NTEN mixes a conference stream with personal streams from both Holly Ross, the executive director, and Annaliese Hoehling, the membership and outreach manager. The result mixes updates of what’s hot at NTEN with personal connections to the NTEN staff. The official presence also facilitates members meeting through any one of the Twitterstreams.
09NTC, a conference presence
Holly Ross, NTEN executive director
Annaliese Hoehling, NTEN membership & outreach manager

Here are Annaliese’s thoughts on Twitter in a blogpost and a quote from her Listserv message…

We avoid the broadcast model of using Twitter at the organizational level – as individuals, Holly and I incorporate organizational announcements, questions, and other communications into our personal professional Twitter updates – we think the personal communication is what resonates on Twitter.

ALA – American Library Association
Techies aren’t the only ones benefiting from Twitter. The ALA’s presence, while different from NTEN, is quite effective. ALA provides different Twitterstreams for different divisions, plus one for their annual conference and one for Valerie Hawkins, the library reference specialist at ALA. Their streams all emphasize pushing out content from their blogs and websites.
Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the ALA
Valerie Hawkins, ALA library reference specialist
Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the ALA
Reference and User Services Association, a division of the ALA
ALA Annual, a conference presence

APHA – American Public Health Association
APHA uses Twitter to push messages to their members and the public, including updates on advocacy, health statistics and updates from their blogs and websites. If your association has public education in its mission, this is a good case study for you.
APHA, the main Twitterstream
National Public Health Week
APHA’s Get Ready campaign, helping Americans protect their health and prepare for pan flu and infectious disease.

More good examples from national associations

Good examples from state and local associations

  • AIGA ID is Idaho’s professional association for design
  • Doterati is Central Florida’s interactive marketing, media and technology association.
  • Amanda Smith, the executive director of the Florida Borderline Personality Disorder Association
  • HiMA is the Houston Interactive Marketing Association
  • MACPA is the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants
  • NYSCATE is the New York State Association for Computing and Technology in Education

Examples from Twitter newbies already gaining momentum

What are the successful practices?
Bob is right to look for practices that go beyond sending early bird registration messages. Twitter is about adding value to your network, which means you need to provide both great content and social capital for your followers. For more content tips, check out Ben Martin’s 10 rules for association using Twitter and the Twitter tips I shared here back in July. If you focus on sharing news-worthy links, acting as a resource, and being a connector for your members and fans, you’ll have a head start on Twitter success.

BONUS: Here are a few reasons you’ll find associations on Twitter.

  • Connect people around an upcoming conference.
  • Promote content from your publications and blogs.
  • Help people connect personally with the association’s executive director and staff.
  • Reach out to the public and gather momentum for a public campaign.
  • Help components connect around their common agenda.
  • Build a grassroots advocacy movement.

{ 9 comments }

Bruce Hammond August 25, 2008 at 6:57 pm

My question that I posted as a question on ASAE’s Acronym blog is whether any associations using Twitter are doing so to gain additional information about what their members are doing?

By following the people that follow your association’s official Twitter presence, I think we as association professionals might be able to more effectively understand what makes our members tick, and how we can more effectively communicate and market products and events to them…

I wanted to see if any other associations are using Twitter as a way to compile some additional information about the members that are following them…

I think there is a way to do so, and it could provide us with some GREAT information would our members.

BTW – our group is utilizing Twitter to enhance the outreach to our members through pushing members back to our web site’s headlines section – Follow DeltaSigmaPhiHQ if you want to hear about what we’re doing!

Ben Martin, CAE August 25, 2008 at 9:19 pm

@Lindy: Thanks for the link and for continuing this conversation. My comment is a little too long for this little bitty box, so I posted it righ over here.

@Bruce, you ask a very smart question.

Mark Krupinski August 26, 2008 at 10:13 am

For doterati, we use twitter to:

- keep a “pulse” of what other marketers and developers are doing in Central Florida.
- ask questions regarding upcoming events and other decision making.
- make announcements regarding the group overall.

doterati also uses the Ning Platform effectively as an online “meeting” place for advice and upcoming events.

Great blog.

Cheers,

Mark Krupinski
Community Manager, doterati

Lindy Dreyer August 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

@Bruce Great point. I think Ben’s follow up post echoes many of my own thoughts on the subject. My one addition: check out Twitter Groups. It’s a very powerful thing to be able to group your member followers and talk to each specific group individually.

@Mark The doterati clearly get it. Thanks for listening and commenting here.

As Mark says, doterati is built on Ning. For a closer look at the Ning platform, check out SNAP–Social Networking for Association Professionals.
http://tinyurl.com/5wvoku

Tony Rossell August 27, 2008 at 11:17 am

Lindy — Thanks so much for the informative and helpful post. Tony

Stephanie Vance September 4, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for this great post on Association’s using Twitter. I’d love to hear if anyone’s having success using it in a grassroots advocacy campaign in either DC or at the state level. I think it has tremendous applications for this environment and am looking to learn more about anyone trying this.

Lynn September 8, 2008 at 2:04 pm

@Bruce:

This is exactly what we are striving to do with our Twitter. We have been coming up with questions to ask every week or two so we can really get to know our followers.

It’s a great tool to get instant feedback.

We also use it to find out what other organizations in our field are doing and to get the latest news. It can be quite overwhelming to read through all of the tweets, but there’s so much information there that is extremely helpful and important.

Beth from Avenue Z September 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Lindy, Chris Uschan at Omnipress pointed me to this blog post after my rant about Twitter. I love the different perspective you provided. Thanks for the analysis.

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