The Hashtag Revolution

A nonprofit’s guide to Twitter

In December, we learned how to use Facebook to engage users and volunteers. We learned that Facebook allows us to:

●      Bring together our audience to have a conversation through PAGES & GROUPS.

●      Solicit different reactions using POSTS & EVENTS.

This month, we will review a MICROBLOGGING platform: Twitter. The key advantage of a microblog is the ability to make more posts, more often.

A couple of thoughts to keep in mind as you read this guide:

●      The target audience is POST-SECONDARY to ADULT

●      The options covered are FREE OF COST

●      The options covered are the BASIC FUNCTIONALITIES

Guide to Engagement


There are three kinds of posts that can be made on Twitter:

  1. Original Post
  2. Reply
  3. Repost

GENERAL TIP #1: Twitter posts tend to be much more frequent than Facebook posts. Not including replies to comments, a general rule of thumb would be 3-4 times a day.

Original Post

A post on twitter is called a ‘tweet’. Twitter, similarly to Facebook, allows users to post text, images and external links. But unlike Facebook, the attention drawn to all posts are more evenly distributed. Text-based posts can receive as much, if not more attention than image-based posts because of the usage of hashtags (see section below on Hashtags).


By clicking on the reply button (see Image 1.1), you can respond to other tweets. Any tweets toward another user i.e. any tweets starting with the ‘@’ symbol will NOT show on your Twitter feed. Replies will NOT show on your Twitter feed.

GENERAL TIP #2: If you would like the post to show up on your Twitter feed, add a symbol like a period before the ‘@’ symbol.

@twitteruser1 this is message WILL NOT show up on your Twitter feed

.@twitteruser1 this WILL show up on your Twitter feed


By clicking on the repost button (see Image 1.2), you can repost another person’s tweet. You can repost the post as is or add your own comments.


Today, we will cover 2 different ways to use hashtags to distribute content on Twitter:

1.     Taking advantage of popular hashtags.

2.     Taking advantage of niche hashtags.

GENERAL TIP #3: Hashtags can also be used on Facebook and similar rules will apply. However, hashtags are most successful on Twitter.


GENERAL TIP #4: Using too many hashtags will overload the users. The general rule of thumb is 1-2 on average and 3-4 hashtags maximum.

Taking Advantage of Popular Hashtags

With tools online, it is easy to determine what the most popular hashtags are. Using a website like, you can search a phrase and see the most popular, relevant hashtags. For example, if you search for ‘volunteer’, you get hashtags like giveback, nonprofit and travel.

GENERAL TIP #5: Before using a hashtag, search twitter for common uses of that hashtag. This is to make sure that the correct audience is being reached.

Taking Advantage of Niche Hashtags

Niche hashtags are less popular and you are less likely to find them as a recommendation on a site like However, with the correct niche hashtags, we can narrow down the audience and obtain more followers.

One way to decide on a niche hashtag is to make your popular hashtags more narrow. For example, instead of #volunteer we can use #nonprofitvolunteer.

Another way to decide on a niche hashtag is to make your OWN hashtag. Nonprofits may want to generate their own hashtags for organization announcements or events. A few simple rules when generating your own hashtag:

1.     Keep the hashtag short

#HashtagOfTheMonth is better than #ThisIsOurHashtagOfTheMonth

2.     Do not use too many abbreviations

#InternationalVolunteerDay is more effective than #IVD

3.     Include a date if it is relevant

#Event2017 is more effective than #Event

Follow these simple steps to build a nonprofit’s social media presence on Twitter.

Written by Florence Cao, Volunteer Content Writer