Final Winter Term Best of Links – Prompt Response

Photo courtesy of Mashable.

In my final prompt response for the term, I take on the case for Twitter, and why it may serve as a valuable component of even the most basic social media strategy for Eugene-Springfield nonprofits. In past blog entries people have asked me about why they should use Twitter. Admittedly this is an important question. Most social media websites are worthless for most nonprofits, who have a strong incentive to only use what will add value to their organization. To some people, Twitter is only a platform for celebrities to spout off insensitive, crazy (and sometimes unexpected), and generally not very well thought out opinions.

To be honest, I myself have only recently tapped into the potential of Twitter. But yes, it’s there. Currently Twitter is growing more than twice as fast as Facebook, and is estimated to double in size by 2014EMarketer claims that Facebook grew 13.6% in 2011, which comes after a 38.6% surge in 2010. By contrast, Twitter grew 31.9%, which comes after a 23.5% jump in 2010.

Why is it that Facebook is plateauing while Twitter soars above the competition? Part of it is simply that Facebook has less growing room than Twitter. Out of a total U.S. population of about 308 million (as of 2011), Facebook claimed nearly 133 million users, while Twitter claims 24 million. Even if Twitter doubles by 2014 it will still have only a third of Facebook’s current domestic audience share.

Globally, Facebook is also much larger, and still has room for expansion. While Facebook is expected to reach a billion users, Twitter’s international audience recently hit the 200 million mark. However, both websites can expect to make huge gains internationally. In Brazil, for example, Facebook grew by 192 percent, and Twitter by 40 percent. Both way outgrew Orkut, whose greatest popularity is in Brazil.

Another reason that could explain Twitter’s rapid growth is the ease with which users can share links and other information to their subscribers. While Facebook also allows this type of sharing, it is arguably more cluttered there, since these links must compete with mundane status updates, photo albums, and sidebar ads for attention. Twitter, by comparison, is less crowded, although your message still has to compete with millions of others for attention.

In any case, both are invaluable to an effective social media strategy, and are the only two websites I can comfortably recommend to any inquisitive nonprofit. They will not make your nonprofit, but they are important tools for communicating your message to target audiences.

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