Media Cause Twitter

Essential Twitter for Nonprofits Guide

Twitter can be a pretty intimidating platform for nonprofits that aren’t active on social media. It can be hard to keep up with all the jargon and the rapid flow of information.

If your nonprofit is new to Twitter, use this Twitter for nonprofits guide to navigate the world of tweets, RTs, MTs, hashtags, followers and more.

Profile Basics

Tweet: A message posted on Twitter that is 140 characters or fewer.

Twitter Handle: Also referred to as username, this is the name you select to represent your nonprofit on Twitter. The username appears on your organization’s Twitter URL:

Follow: When you “follow” users, you are basically subscribing to their updates on Twitter. As soon you follow users, their tweets will begin to appear on your nonprofit’s Twitter timeline.

Follower: A user who subscribed to your tweets. You can view your total number of followers on your nonprofit’s Twitter profile page.

Follow Back: When you “follow back,” you subscribe to the updates of a user who follows your group’s Twitter handle.

Profile Image: The small picture that appears next to your nonprofit’s Twitter handle. Use your organization’s logo as the profile image.

Header Image: The image that appears on profile profile page behind the description and the profile image. Upload an image that showcases your organization’s work.

Background Image: The background of your organization’s Twitter profile. Upload an image that reflects your nonprofit’s branding.

Tweet Terms

#Hashtag: A Twitter tagging system used to aggregate tweets around events, topics or themes. Hashtags can be easily created by adding the pound symbol “#” before a word, acronym or phrase in tweets.

Retweet/RT: When you retweet something, you share another user’s tweet with your followers. There are two ways to retweet – the first is to simply hit the “Retweet” button below the tweet and the second is to copy and paste the content of the tweet in the “Compose new Tweet…” section, add the user’s handle before the content and then hit the “Tweet” button.


RT @mediacause Crucial email #marketing metrics to follow for #nonprofit organizations:  @JTSwars #nptech

Modified Tweet/MT: Similar to a retweet, this is used to indicate that you are sharing another user’s original tweet, but have altered it in some way. Typically this is used to shorten a tweet to meet character requirements or to add in relevant hashtags.

@Mention: A tweet that contains another Twitter username, preceded by the “@” symbol.


Hello @NRDC! Thank you for standing up for the environment!

@Reply: A public message sent from one Twitter user to another by beginning a tweet with @ [insert username]. Any tweet that begins with the @ symbol will only be seen by the user whose Twitter handle you’ve included in the tweet and by people who follow both your organization and the user you’ve mentioned.

Favorite: The favorite button is the small star icon below tweets. It is generally used to let a user know that you like their tweet. You can also “favorite” tweets that you want to revisit later. The tweets that you favorite are saved in the “Favorites” section on your profile.

Direct Message/DM: A private message sent from one Twitter user to another by either clicking the “message” link on their profile or typing D [username]. These messages are only seen by the sender and the recipient. You can only send direct messages to users who follow your nonprofit’s Twitter handle.

Getting Around

Twitter Timeline: A timeline is a term Twitter uses to describe the stream of tweets that you see from users you’ve followed.

Lists: User can create public or private lists. You can add both users you’re following and not following to these lists.

Trending Topics: These are displayed on the left-hand side of your Twitter homepage. Trending topics are words, phrases or hashtags that are popular on Twitter at a given time. Trending topics can be tailored by a specific location and are updated in real time.

Promoted Tweets: Tweets that have been promoted by paid marketing efforts.

Who to Follow: On the homepage, Twitter will suggest users you might be interested in following based on the users that you already follow. Promoted Twitter handles may also appear in this section.

Other Twitter for nonprofits resources:

Infographic: Best practices for nonprofits on Twitter

Tips on hosting nonprofit Twitter chats

How to thank nonprofit supporters on social media

10 tips for an effective nonprofit content strategy

How to promote nonprofit holiday campaigns on Twitter

Create shareable links for your nonprofit

How to find social media content for nonprofits

9 tips for nonprofit social media content marketing

Questions? We’re always here to help! Leave a comment below, send a tweet to @mediacause or write to us at connect [at] mediacause [dot] org.



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