When it comes to social media, nobody is perfect. Trends change frequently, and for social media marketers it’s impossible to keep up with all those changes without experiencing social media burnout. This can be a particular challenge for nonprofits with limited resources and only one or two people making up the whole marketing department.

While a successful social media strategy will look different for every organization, there are a few things that apply to pretty much everyone. There are tons of articles about good Twitter practices, but I’m going to focus this article on a few things I frequently see nonprofits doing that really bum me out:

Your header image is low quality – In the search for the ideal header image, people do not always take size into account. On Twitter, the recommended header image size is 1500px by 500px. If you pick (or create) an image much smaller than that, or with a different aspect ratio, Twitter will resize it and chances are it won’t look great.

Twitter profile header is a screenshot from Oregon Trail saying "you have died of dysentery" but the wording is obscured by the placement of the Twitter profile picture, which is an egg

This Twitter header image I made as an example shows the perils of using a small, low resolution image. Note the blurriness! Also note that the lettering is partly obscured by the profile picture. An ineffective use of a classic image.

When you make updates to your profile picture or header image, make sure you look at them on multiple browsers and devices. Sometimes an image that looks great on your phone looks terrible blown up on a computer screen, or words that you include in the image could be cut off or made unreadably blurry if viewed on a different browser or device. Canva has an awesome Twitter header template that’s simple to use and produces great results.

You have nothing to say – When you tweet a link to an article and the text of your tweet is just the title of the article, it shows me that you either didn’t read the article or you don’t care enough to add your two cents. When you find or create great content, share it and add to the conversation! When you find content that isn’t so great, don’t just share it because you’ve heard you need to tweet at least ten times a day. As a general rule, if you don’t have anything useful or interesting to tweet, don’t tweet anything at all. Nonprofit Hub offers a very helpful cheat sheet for those who aren’t sure when it’s a good time to tweet.

You auto post the same content across platforms – When you post a tweet that is just a link to a post you made on Facebook, all that says to me is that you put all your energy into Facebook and don’t pay attention to Twitter. Repurposing content is a great way to boost engagement and drive site traffic, but it does take some finesse. Familiarize yourself with the different styles of the social media platforms you use, and tweak your phrasing and content for each platform while staying true to your organization’s brand. Some of your fans no doubt follow you on multiple social media channels, and they will appreciate not having to see the exact same status update on every one of them!

You hardly ever interact with other accounts – It’s called social media for a reason. When people tweet you questions, compliments, concerns, or basically anything else, you have a great opportunity to build community and your organization’s brand by replying. If you consistently miss out on these interactions, it starts to look like you don’t care. Even just clicking that little heart at the bottom of a tweet is better than nothing!

You don’t live-tweet events (or at least write a quick follow-up post) – I know you were there! I saw you! Where was your social media presence? Live-tweeting is a quick and easy way to increase engagement and build community. You can share quotes from keynote speeches and conference sessions, tweet pictures (did you know tweets with images get 150% more retweets and 313% more overall engagement than tweets without images?), and include the handles of other attendees you know. Events often have a hashtag – use it! Alternatively, if you can’t attend an event that is relevant to your organization but have a colleague or friend going, ask them to tweet so you can retweet their content, or if they’re really nice they can text you updates and pictures for you to share.

You always tweet links behind paywalls – Nearly 80% of the 98 most widely read publications in the US have paywalls, according to the American Press Institute. Yes, paying journalists for their hard work is important. It’s fine to tweet occasional links from websites like The New York Times that require a subscription to read the full article, but try to do this sparingly. Your nonprofit’s Twitter is designed to help people, and if you tweet a lot of content that is not accessible to everyone in your audience, you may be alienating them rather than helping.

You didn’t even read that article, did you? – Speaking of paywalls, perhaps you’ve tweeted a link because the title sounded like great advice, but you didn’t have time to click through and read the article, so you weren’t aware that it was behind a paywall. We’ve all done it, whether we’re in a hurry or just burned out from reading tons of articles. It’s a really good idea to read articles before sharing them with your audience to make sure they are in line with your organization’s values and actually worth your audience’s time. Sometimes the body of an article has nothing to do with the title, or it ends up being an advertisement, or it’s just plain old clickbait. At the very least, always take a moment to click through and skim!

No one’s Twitter practices are perfect, but if you take some of this advice to heart I’m sure you’ll find that your nonprofit’s social media marketing is a little more effective, a little more enjoyable, and a lot less of a bummer.

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