How nonprofits can use Twitter lists to curate content, research and stay updated

19 Aug

rooks-on-wire

As a child, were you ever told the story of the thirsty crow and the pitcher of water?

It goes like this. The thirsty crow wanted a sip of water from a long-necked pitcher, but couldn’t get his beak in. So he dropped pebbles one by one into the pitcher till the water level rose, drank and flew away.

Twitter lists are a lot like that. We’ll see how.

Twitter! Not for me, oh no!

Many not-profits that I work with leave Twitter well alone, because they feel that:

  1. There’s too much information out there, and I don’t have the time.
  2. I don’t want to wade through the noise of Twitter (eg. What did Amitabh Bachchan do this morning) to find a single article of interest, because, you guessed right, I don’t have the time.
  3. I wish someone would make sense of all the information on Twitter and bunch together just the stuff I’m interested in (also called Content curation and aggregation).

If you can’t follow ’em all, Twitter list ’em

And that’s where Twitter lists come in. There’s a lot of water out there, and you need to drop these pebbles in to get the water to the top.

For example, one of my interests is Fundraising. I want to keep up with stuff that’s going on in the world, watch people and non-profits who’re doing brilliant campaigns and stay on top of my game.

All I have to do is create a Twitter list and add people who are doing path-breaking work in fundraising to the list. (These are people I already follow on Twitter.) These people are likely to follow other people that inspire them, so I wade through their list of followers and unashamedly follow some of them who look interesting. Soon, I have a list that is curated, organized and easy to follow. If I don’t have time to look through my entire Twitter feed, all I have to do is go to my list, and catch up on the most important goings-on in the world of fundraising.

Five steps to creating your own list on Twitter

Step by step, here is how to create a Twitter list of your own.

  1. On your Twitter page, go to the Settings and help tab on the top right hand and click on lists.
  2. Click on Create new list, give your list a name (eg. Fundraising) and add a short description.
  3. You can keep your list private or make it public (which means other people can follow your list).
  4. Add a bunch of people from the list of people you follow – take some time with this step. You want to get the best of the Twitterati on your subject here. Select people who read and tweet widely on the subject of fundraising.
  5. That’s it! You now have your own selected list of the best and latest information on fundraising on your Twitter feed.

Or follow

If you don’t want to take a trouble of creating your own list, then follow the Twitter list of someone else who’s taken the trouble to put it together, and you get a pretty well curated list for free! (Fundraising enthusiasts, my list of the Bold and the Beautiful in Fundraising is at https://twitter.com/bharatir/lists/fundraising – follow away!)

What’s in it for you

A Twitter list is a lifeline in an age of information overload. You get just the information you want, pulled together in a single place. A great way to make sure you’re on top of what’s happening around the world in your field.

Twitter lists are great for research on any subject. If it’s a new subject you want to look up, you can follow the above steps to get a customised Twitter list that has the latest information on the subject of your choice.

Another benefit of Twitter lists is that it creates a virtual group of your peers – or people with whom you want to hang out. You get to keep up with what they’re reading; you can retweet them; tweet them; and build relationships with peers in this way.

The common crow had oodles of common sense

The technology is new, but the idea is centuries old, courtesy the common crow. Who’d have thought a crow could teach you how to tweet?

PS Since we are on the subject of how smart crows are, take a look at 6 Terrifying Ways Crows Are Way Smarter Than You Think.

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