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Tweeting through uncertainty: Candid’s approach to nonprofit Twitter

Woman at a computer, a messy thought line runs from her head to Twitter's bird logo

Since Twitter’s new ownership took over in late October, the social media platform has experienced a significant decline in its userbase—a loss of over 1.3 million active users in one week. Candid’s Twitter account alone has lost over 1,000 followers in the same period, and we expect to see this negative trend continue. Additionally, rumors about paywalls, increases in hate speech, and chaos around the new paid verifications, have led to a lot of uncertainty, frustration, and confusion. 
 
So, what are nonprofits supposed to do about Twitter?  

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what your nonprofit should do just yet. Why? We don’t have enough information about what will ultimately happen with Twitter, which makes any planning for the future a moot point at the moment. Additionally, every organization has their own social media priorities, strategy, and audiences to consider. 

However, I can share what we are doing at Candid to address today’s ever-changing Twitter landscape and the decision-making process behind our current thinking—with the hope this information can help you evaluate your nonprofit’s approach to a future presence on Twitter.  

1. Stay on top of the news, but don’t get too invested.  

The future of Twitter is changing hourly, and there seems to be very little solid information to consistently rely on. However, we don’t necessarily know what these new changes mean in the long term.  

To stay up to date, the easiest way is to just follow Elon Musk on Twitter. He recently held a meeting to detail what changes would occur for advertisers and will likely continue hosting these public forums. But don’t get too invested in what you hear, as Musk himself has said, Twitter is doing a lot of quick experimentation and is aware they’ll be rolling back changes.  

2. Make no immediate changes, just reduce input. 

We normally invest quite a bit of time into our Twitter community, posting news and updates, responding to questions and comments, and running experiments to improve our engagement. While we wait for more information, we’re taking a step back. 

Here’s what our day-to-day Twitter approach looks like right now:  

  • Suspending experiments. Earlier this year, we shared how we ran an experiment on Twitter positing frequency. For now, these types of efforts are on pause until we better understand what the new Twitter looks like. 
  • Reducing posts. We’ve decreased our posting frequency from around 10 times a day to four or five. We’re also focused only on content that involves a lower level of investment on our end, such as resharing blog content and news.  
  • Pausing 2023 planning. It’s just impossible to plan for the unknown in this case. I’m taking a step back from my usual annual planning until we have more information. 

3. Investigate where to invest our time instead. 

By reducing the amount of time we’re focused on Twitter, it frees us up to investigate where we could put our energy if we can’t connect with our audiences on Twitter in the same way as we have in the past. 

Instead of adding another platform to our repertoire like Mastodon, BeReal, or Tumblr, I’m thinking about platforms where we already have an audience and may have a greater potential for growth. For us, that’s LinkedIn. While we use the platform to share content with our community, we haven’t explored many of LinkedIn’s other offerings for boosting engagement, such as in-platform newsletters, live videos, and groups. We’re also focusing more on our experiments with other video-first social media platforms, including YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram Reels

4. Communicate with internal stakeholders about what is happening 

As we digest the news and plan for an uncertain future, I’m sharing updates with the rest of the Communications & Brand Awareness team and others at Candid, who are working in social media.  

Here’s specifically what my message is right now, regarding what’s occurring on Twitter: 

  • The @CandidDotOrg handle is not losing followers; users are leaving the platform. 
  • There’s no immediate need for action.  
  • We are pausing experiments and future planning until we know more. 
  • We are investigating if any existing platforms may be worth investing more in, but we are not currently planning to join new social media platforms. 

Final thoughts 

If you are the individual managing your nonprofit organization’s social media, I encourage you to take the space to grapple with what you built and lost. As someone who’s been doing social media since the beginning, I’m struggling both personally and professionally with these uncertain changes. Not only is a core part of my job potentially changing, but a space I’ve valued for networking and friendship has shifted dramatically. 

If you’re not personally doing social media, consider recognizing that this time may be difficult for those individuals who do. This is a challenging and uncertain time, and the nonprofit social media community could use our support.

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