Now that you’ve decided to join Twitter there are several considerations to bear in mind before you get started. The following will introduce you to some important terms and topics to help you on your way to using Twitter.


This curriculum is a companion to TechSoup’s Nonprofit Social Media 101 Wiki. This guide is intended to:
  • Help you create a Twitter identity
  • Gain a basic understanding of how Twitter works
  • Confidently use Twitter to support your organization’s online community building efforts

Creating a Twitter Identity


On Twitter, your username is referred to as your “handle.” Undoubtedly, creating a Twitter handle is one of the most important parts of getting started on Twitter.

Your handle should be memorable and in alignment with your brand. If your organization’s name is long, it is advisable to use an acronym or other shorthand. The reason for doing so is to increase the chances that others will retweet, or repost, your tweets. When others retweet your content, your handle precedes the original content – consuming part of the 140-character tweet allotment.

See the example below:

User Image

If your first instinct for a suitable Twitter image to accompany your handle is to upload your organization’s logo – then you are only partly correct. Many organizations just getting started on Twitter upload their logos without verifying whether the image is of a suitable format and size to use. The resulting images are often too large and become partly obscured – doing a disservice to your organization’s brand image. Rectangular logos will be cut off on either end and will require modification for proper viewing.

Before uploading your logo, make sure it is no larger than 700k and in a square format. If your organization does not have a square version of its logo, the simplest option is to add white space to the image to render it a square. In some cases it may be worthwhile to design a square version of your logo for use on social media. Some examples of organization's that modified their logos for Twitter follows:

TS_logo_v_ avatar.jpg
TS_logo_v_ avatar.jpg

Further reading: 11 Excellent Examples of Nonprofit Avatars


A Twitter bio, like a Tweet, is meant to be brief – 160 characters to be exact. Use your bio to powerfully and succinctly tell the story of what your organization does. Your bio should incorporate key words relevant to your work to increase your chances of appearing prominently in Twitter’s search rankings. For example, if your organization is a food bank, you would want to incorporate key words such as “hunger,” “food bank,” and/or “food insecurity.”

Further reading: How to Write an Awesome Twitter Bio for Your Nonprofit, How To Squeeze a Stellar Bio into Your Nonprofit Twitter Account

Using Twitter

The Basics

A posted message on Twitter is known as a “tweet” and is composed of a maximum of 140 characters.

As mentioned previously a “retweet” is a reposting of a tweet you have sent. Retweets are indicated by an “RT” preceding the handle of the original creator of a tweet followed by the tweet itself.

What to Tweet

Use Twitter to post tweets about the work your organization is doing, share useful and interesting content others are sharing, and engage directly with others.

You can increase the visibility of your tweets by using “hashtags.” A “hashtag” is a Twitter keyword, which is indicated by a word or phrase preceded by the pound, or hash, sign. Popular hashtags for social benefit organizations include “#nonprofit,” “#NGO,” and “volunteer.” Incorporate hashtags when you tweet to help others find you on Twitter.

Further Reading: 30 Super Useful Nonprofit Hashtags – Twitter Chats, Too!

Connecting on Twitter

Engage with others by directly addressing or replying to them. To directly speak to someone, simply click “reply” or begin a tweet using that person or organization’s handle.


Alternately, you can also communicate privately by “direct message.” A “direct messages” is a private messages on Twitter indicated by “DM” preceding the handle of the user you want to communicate with. When you send tweets in the manner, no one but the person to whom the tweet is addressed to will be able to view the message.

Beyond Your First Tweet

Now that you have a grasp of the basic terms it’s time to start tweeting. It’ll take time and experience until you fully feel comfortable using Twitter.

You can also acquire more insider Twitter knowledge by going through TechSoup’s Nonprofit Social Media 101 wiki section on Twitter. In this wiki you will find more in depth information on leveling up engagement on Twitter, useful Twitter tools, and much more.