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Nathaniel Nakashima
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At what point does humanizing your Twitter profile become a distraction from the main objective or topic of discussion? I think we're all familiar with website forums that contain discussions completely unrelated to the main objective of the forum. I think some people don't mind these distractions, yet others do because they joined the forum to talk about an important issue - instead of talking about that issue, people are talking about what type of coffee they're drinking or that they had a bad day and needed ice cream. If you follow this road, the forum transforms into something that is quite useless to the people who want to seriously discuss important issues. Is there a solution that can appease everyone? I think there is and that it involves creating, standardizing, and subscribing to #hashtags. I think that throughout the course of this conversation, many have forgotten about the use of #hashtags and their ability to help solve some of the discourse over what type of twitter profile to choose from (i.e. option 1, 2, 3, or 4; humanizing vs. non-humanizing). Instead, I think we should be focusing our efforts on which #hashtags to create, standardize, and subscribe to across the philanthropic/non-profit industry. For those of you who do not know yet, a #hashtag essentially categorizes tweets from all over the Twitter network by topic - effectively sorting all the "noise" into relevant specific streams of interest. A #hashtag stream could theoretically consist of tweets from all types of Twitter profiles (e.g. pure foundation brand, foundations with personality, employees with foundation associations, and pure personal accounts). Therefore, it wouldn't matter what type of Twitter profile you had - as long as you use a #hashtag in your tweet, people subscribed to that particular #hashtag will see your relevant tweet without seeing all the other "noise" in your Twitter stream. In this way, less attention is put on individual accounts and more attention is put on the #hashtagged topic of interest - which should be the focus anyway right? So in essence, those of you who want to have a more "humanizing" Twitter profile can have your cake and tweet about it too - though if you decide to also tweet about the important issues facing the philanthropy/non-profit industry, you can just #hashtag the topic. After doing some research on Philanthropy411's blogpost of the "90 Foundations that Tweet", I found that less than 50% were using #hashtags. On top of that even less were using industry-relevant #hashtags. Below is a list of common #hashtags that are being used by the Foundations to "catergorize" their tweets into general areas interest. #nonprofits #nonprofit #foundations #foundation #philanthropy #grantmakers #ngo #humanitarian #causes #grants #grant #evaluation #healthreform #publichealth #health #hcan #healthcare #healthbill #edreform #education #edtech #STEM #arts #artsculturemich #sustainability #green #energychallenge #ecomonday #waterwednesday #nptech #npecon #socialgood #sosg #socent #charity #fundraising #giving #silentauction #raffles #nonprofitgiveaway #charitytuesday #volunteer As you can see, most of the #hashtags listed above are really way way too general to be of any use. If for instance, you tagged a tweet about your Foundation's performing arts program with #arts, your tweet would be amongst tweets about all kinds of topics in the art world - even tweets about Paula Abdul leaving American Idol. If, however, there was a standard #hashtag for philanthropy/non-profit art like #philart (stands for philanthropy art) or #npart (stands for non-profit art), then I think we would see everyone in this industry getting a lot more out of Twitter (e.g. engaging in conversation, finding it more useful as a social media tool). As a result, I see a need for the philanthropy/non-profit world to create, standardize, and subscribe to #hashtags. The sooner this happens, the sooner everyone can stop stressing about what type of profile to choose (humanizing vs. non-humanizing) and start communicating effectively.
Thanks Beth, for the very informative blog post. Despite the large number of Foundations and grantees currently on Twitter, I feel that there is a lack of community and conversation taking place amongst them. In general, I don't think many of the Foundations are tweeting and using #hashtags enough - especially the big players. I think community and conversation will increase with the creation and standardization of specific #hashtags (e.g. #hashtags for common Foundation program areas - environment, performing arts, etc.). This would help filter the already existing inundated #hashtags like #nonprofits and #philanthropy, and make tweets by Foundations serving more than one philanthropic interest more relevant and useful. In addition, #hashtags may help solve the personal vs. organizational issue since they filter tweets by topic of interest. As a result, more attention is put on the program/topic of interest and less attention is put on the Foundation and individual - that's actually how it should be in this industry right? Perhaps in a subsequent, but related post you could suggest a healthy list of #hashtags that every Foundation should be using in their tweets?