Posted by Jay Wilkinson

As I travel to speak at events around the country or during my webinars for nonprofits, I’m asked several questions about how organizations can optimize their online presence. Here’s a common one that maybe you’ve wondered about yourself.

Q: On Twitter, how important is retweeting, favoriting and sharing other organizations’ posts? That’s typically where I spend most of my time.

A: I think it’s very important, but what’s even more important is having some of your own unique posts and content. A good rule of thumb for tweeting is “one in four.” So for every four tweets that you make, only one of those should be a retweet.

The reason for a rule like that is this: If you’re only retweeting other people and all that shows up in my newsfeed from you is a retweet, I’m not going to feel like you’re contributing much to the conversation. You’re just essentially reflecting on what other people are contributing and trying to build your reputation off of others.

Here are a few other Twitter tips for nonprofits:

You may only have 140 characters per tweet, but you can accomplish a lot with a few words—and it can be an effective tool for connecting with supporters. I’d recommend these four things if you choose to be active on Twitter.

  1. Fill out your profile (80% of Twitter users don’t) to make it easier for people to find you.
  2. Create a short username. Tweets are only 140 characters, so when people reply to you and you have a long name, you leave them less room for message content. If you don’t yet have an established Twitter presence yet, find something that fits with the image of your organization but isn’t too verbose.
  3. Use a third-party tool to tweet. I recommend using Buffer, HootSuite or TweetDeck. These tools allow you to do some cool things, like schedule your tweets and monitor conversations about your organization. I find Buffer the best for posting content and HootSuite the best for monitoring, and they’re both free.
  4. Use keywords in your Twitter profile. When you fill out your profile, include the words that users will actually use to search for your organization. This will make you more findable.

Remember to keep your retweets to a minimum, but don’t feel like every tweet has to be completely original content. You can post an inspirational quote, a compelling statistic or fact related to your cause, or something you ran across in your reading that interested you. If you find something interesting, chances are good your followers will too. The whole point of social networking is to connect with like-minded people.