3 Twitter Tips for Everyday Use and Emergency Response

Managing the Twitter Overload (photo by renaissancechambara)

This weekend, the Mightycause team put together a plan to help us be ready for when Hurricane Irene made landfall. This is standard procedure for many organizations, and my job was to keep the communication lines open with you (our readers) so you’re informed of what’s going on and how you can support the organizations providing relief to the thousands affected.

It’s Important to be Ready

In the case of a nonprofit, you may want to be ready for any sort of disaster that can affect your community so you can react the moment they need you. By becoming familiar with the tools that can help you manage your Twitter followers and the rapid developing news beforehand, you can be sure to know the best things to do for your community in case of an emergency.

3 Twitter Tips for Everyday Use

It depends on your style and what works for you, but here are some tools I found to be helpful when listening and interacting on Twitter on a daily basis:

1. Use Twitter lists. And when I say use them, I mean use them. Categorize the people you follow in lists based on anything you’d like to interact with them about. You can edit, add and delete lists and the people you assign to those lists as many times as you want, so it’s flexible enough to evolve with you. It’s worth taking the time to do this even if you already have lots of people you’re following because it’ll help you engage with them on certain topics of interest whenever you need to. And you can make the lists public or private, too.

2. Third party applications help. A lot. HootSuite, Seesmic and Tweetdeck are three popular desktop applications (apps) for Twitter. (Note: Twitter now owns Tweetdeck.) It’ll sync your Twitter followers and lists into the app, and can help you generate reports, manage several accounts (including Facebook fan pages), and display the lists/streams you want to view all at once. They all have basic free accounts so try them out and see what works best for you.

3. Mobile apps are pretty cool, too. If you’re engaging with your community, it helps to have an app on your phone that’ll let you send messages while you’re on the go so you have a consistent voice in the community when you’re not in front of a computer or without Internet access.

When Disaster Strikes

We never wish for something terrible like a natural disaster to happen, but inevitably they occur and having community engagement practices in place will help you react to them quickly and effectively. For example, before the hurricane hit, we were already following major organizations that play a big part in the relief effort, like the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. That way I could easily ReTweet helpful information to our followers.

I created a public list on Twitter specifically for disaster relief that included a few nonprofit and news organizations that helped keep us abreast of the hurricane’s effects and the relief efforts deployed. Doing that helped us easily focus on the information they were providing. That’s how we were able to keep our community informed about the storm, even if they were somewhere that wasn’t affected.

We were able to get word out about the hurricane relief page we created to a local news outlet so that community members could donate to a charity helping in disaster relief efforts across the eastern seaboard. We kept our followers informed about what they could do to help.

The result? The news spread, and people noticed. It was no doubt easier to manage the crazy amount of information on Twitter during the hurricane because we had these basic community management practices in place beforehand.


Here’s a great article about engaging with your community that I highly recommend you read if you’re new to the social media world. Remember to listen first, then join the conversation, and offer content (information) that’s valuable to the audience.

Do you have any other tips for managing the Twitter overload?