4 Ways Non-profits Can Use Twitter Custom Timelines

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Posted: Nov 22, 2013

Last week Twitter announced a new feature called Custom Timelines for its users. This feature, which works with TweetDeck, provides a simple way for people to take control of their feeds and curate a streamlined set of tweets organized around a particular topic or theme. 

This concept is actually not far from another service that you may already be familiar with—Storify. By offering this alternative, it's clear that Twitter is looking to edge its way into the curated storytelling market. There are still some advantages that Storify has over Twitter's Custom Timelines at this time, like the ability to incorporate Facebook posts and tweets and the ability to add descriptions between posts. However, the ease of curating messages on the go through TweetDeck's familiar interface may be enough to draw people in. 

We can already envision four ways that non-profits can take advantage of this feature right now, and no doubt as Twitter continues to improve this feature, we'll see that number grow.  

1. Highlight conversations around an annual fundraiser or event

One of the primary uses for Custom Timelines is to share reactions around a particular event or conference. This can be a great way to pull together real-time reactions to a fundraising gala of those who are in the room. You can be monitoring the conversations under the event hashtag or just tracking certain keywords. Did someone say something awesome but they didn't use the hashtag? It's no problem—you can easily add that tweet to your custom timeline with a few quick clicks. When you send out a thank you to your attendees, consider including a few of those reactions to remind everyone what the energy in the room felt like. 

2. Share testimonials for your organization on your website

One of the advantages of having a Custom Timeline is that you can easily embed it into a website by creating a custom widget. Want to put quick some testimonials on a fundraising page? It's now easy to do. Curating a list of tweets about why people give or support your organization can add an authentic touch that may compel someone to give or encourage others to share their messages of support. 

3. Pull together emerging news about your cause

Are you working in an area that has fast moving news, or are looked at as a leading voice in a cause? Now you can pull together an informative list of news in real-time so people can stay involved with the latest newsworthy events happening on your issue. For example, are you working in the field of climate change? It may be good to provide a feed of tweets related to movements in the area of policy or science as it relates to climate change. 

4. Recap highlights to your board

Have a board that is compelled by testimonials or stories about the work your doing in the field? Using the Custom Timeline to pull together important tweets throughout the year into a streamlined feed to make a powerful storytelling moment in an end-of-year or quarterly Board update. Show them how you're staying in touch with your community and what your community thinks of your services in your constituents’ own words. 

One thing to be aware of, at this time it doesn't look like you can set a Custom Timeline to private, so just be mindful about what streams you're creating and how a follower might perceive it. 

Photo by EldH on Flickr

Twitter: @kimervin
Kim Ervin is Pyramid’s Senior Social Media Strategist. She develops social media strategies and campaigns which aim to deepen connections between organizations and their communities. When not sharing the ins and outs of social media, Kim is likely reading and researching ways to change the world on multiple screens. You can connect with her on Twitter @KimErvin.