Setting up on Twitter

Twitter is a really useful tool for building your presence and reaching out to people who might not hear about your project otherwise. This can include high profile people such as celebrities or journalists who could have a vested interest in what you’re trying to achieve (e.g. if they’re from the local area or have donated to the cause). This guide will show you how to set up a Twitter account and how to use it to find and approach people who could help.

Creating a Twitter profile

If you already have your own account with Twitter, you can use this to promote your project as long it is not set to “private”. However, you should bear in mind that anyone you approach will be able to read your personal Tweets if they want to, and any opinions you have expressed could be associated with your project. If you decide you want to make a new profile for the project, or if you don’t have one of your own, you can do this from the homepage by filling in your details at www.twitter.com:

  • You’ll be taken to a page to confirm your details and you’ll be asked to choose a name for your account. They do suggest one based on your own name, but this can easily be changed to the name of your project if you wish.
  • Twitter will then take you through a tutorial showing you how to use the site. As part of this, you will be prompted to search for and follow five people. If there is anyone you know that has Twitter, you could search for them here, or alternatively look for groups in your local area or that are similar to your cause.
  • Twitter will also prompt you to follow well known people from lists it has created, and will ask you to import your contacts from your email accounts. If you want to skip any of these steps, you can do so easily by selecting “skip” underneath the suggestions. The next step is to upload an image and write a short bio – it needs to be under 160 characters so be concise!

Once your profile is completed, you’ll be taken to a homepage which will have the Tweets from everyone you’re following. From here you can post your own updates, reply to others, or search for and follow new people.

Using Twitter to promote your project

If you already have friends who use Twitter, make sure you are following all of them and ask them to follow you back – having followers is the quickest way to make your page look legitimate and give you some gravitas. Once you have done this, search for people, projects or companies that are similar to your own project or share its aim, and interact with them so that they become aware of the project. You can either do this on Twitter – by searching for the name of the person/company you’d like to follow, or you can go directly to the relevant websites to see if Twitter details are listed there; this method means you’re more likely to follow a legitimate account. Once you have found the profile you’re looking for, you can follow them if you’d like to see their updates, or you can just Tweet to them to let them know what you’re doing (or you can do both).

With any luck, once you have got in touch with them, they will help you promote your project by “retweeting” your message so that all their followers can see it. This can be really valuable in helping you gain support, especially if they have a high number of followers.

As well as directly contacting people to encourage them to help you, Twitter is a good place to post short updates on how your project is progressing as the people following you will be interested in this. It’s also a good idea to direct people to your project page as often as possible, especially during the voting period, so that they can vote or post comments.

Another way to improve the reach of your Tweets is to include hashtags. Hashtags are words or phrases with # at the beginning, and Twitter users use them to easily search for topics. Many local areas or specific causes have hashtags – for example, #yorkshirehour or #dementiachallengers – but there are also more general ones that could be used for gaining support, e.g. #communityproject or #votenow.

There are lots of tools online to help you find hashtags relevant to your subject or area, and another great way to do this is to just search the subject (e.g. “Carers”) on Twitter and see what hashtags are most commonly used.