Using Twitter as a Virtual Organizing Meeting for Nonprofits


When trying to build a coalition or community organize around a specific event or cause, it is necessary to have community organizing meetings to help coordinate efforts, disseminate information and build your database for future calls to action. To be effective, online community organizing must be done in conjunction with boots on the grounds efforts in order to reach the level of success that most advocacy groups desire. However, the challenge for advocacy groups in online community organizing is identifying and capitalizing on opportunities for engagement. The functionality of Twitter provides several opportunities for advocacy groups, and this week I will be discussing how to use twitter as a virtual organizing meeting for week 3 of my evidence based Twitter Study.

Online activism can be expressed in three different ways. When used by boots on the ground individuals, it has the ability to create awareness and draw in individuals who are not at the event. With using this approach only, the primary purpose serves to create awareness and boost interested for increased engagement on the ground for future events. Slacktivism,also known as arm-chair activist, are typically criticized for mounting protest using social media while being to lazy to participate on the ground. However, this pessimistic view does not take into consideration the disabled, non-participants being activated, travel limitations, and so forth. The last and most effective expression of online activism uses a hybrid model of coordinating between slacktivists and “boots on the ground” in an effort to expand reach on social media.

This week, I wanted to explore using Twitter to facilitate a virtual organizing meeting via a live tweet chat format. In this tweetchat, I wanted to provide information on how to use twitter to identify collaborators and create allies. Most importantly, I wanted to help users understand twitter reach, and how to maximize hashtags and followers to expand reach. Last, I wanted participants to help identify non-social work organizations and individuals that social workers should be engaging with on Twitter. I used a 7 question open ended survey for participants to identify organizations and hashtags of non-social work organizations to create a master list for social workers. To view the archive of Sunday’s tweetchat, you can view

Tweets of the Week

Also, Sprout Social responding to a tweet is a perfect example of how mentions and tweeting to influential accounts can help get your brand and message in front of a bigger audience.

Challenges, Barriers, Limitations

By using this type of forum for a community organizing meeting, I wanted to narrow the focus on the highest priority information to be disseminated and the highest priority action I wanted participants to complete. Understanding twitter reach and asking participants to complete the survey in order to create a master list was the highest priorities were the top priorities for this chat. When using this type of forum, you have the ability to engage people from a variety of background. However, you should not assume because someone has access to a certain technology that they also understand how to manipulate it and extract data.

We are crossing the halfway mark of the #SWHelper Evidenced Based Twitter Study. Join us next week on April 6th at 3PM EST using the hashtag #swhelper. We will be discussing using twitter for advocacy, and a detail article on Sunday’s chat is forthcoming.

Community Organizing and Creating Allies on Twitter

Twitter can be very noisy due to an enormous amount of tweets and random people who can make their way into your timeline. In the beginning when you are trying to become accustomed to the twitter culture, twitter lists, faves, retweets, and obtaining followers may seem like another exercise of gaining friends on Facebook. Unlike Facebook, twitter will never ask, ” Do you know this person”? This lack of barriers provide a unique opportunity for twitter users to seek out collaborators and allies for a particular cause, shared passion, or to community organize.

Twitter Reach
Example of Twitter Reach

Private accounts on Twitter receive the least amount of connectivity and interactivity. Most people will not follow back a private account because you can’t retweet anything insightful or informational posted by a private user because its private. If you approach Twitter with no expectation of privacy and that everything you tweet will be for public consumption, your experience and how you use it will begin to take new form.

This is week three in the Live Twitter Study I am conducting to explore the practical uses for twitter in the scope of social work practice and policy. On Sunday, we will be discussing how to use twitter to community organize and identify non-social work allies, as well as discussing why creating non-social work allies are important to promoting social work policy and practice.

Also, I am asking participants to be prepared to share @organizations and/or any hashtags for the purpose of creating a twitter list of allies and possible collaborators for everyone to have access.  Also, we will be discussing twitter reach and what it means in terms of disseminating an awareness campaign, action alerts, important resources, or urgent information as a prelude to understanding potential reach.

Join us on March 30th at 3PM EST to discuss using twitter for community organizing and creating allies using the hashtag #swhelper. Be ready to @ your favorite nonprofits and organizations to share because you believe they should be natural allies to the social work profession.

Also View:

Beth Kanter’s Community Organizing Twitter Rules

Creating a Focus Group Using Twitter: Week Two of Twitter Study


Have you ever wished you had a second opinion or a group of people you could poll to help with your decision-making process. Politicians, product designers, and advertisers do it all the time. They often will conduct a focus group, which is a small sample of people, in order to get feedback, test theories, or to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on their issue or concern.

Focus groups are only one method in a researcher’s data collection arsenal, but this method is ideal for investigation because you can ask follow-up questions in response to answers by the participants. Creating a focus group may sound complicated, time-consuming, expensive, and/or inaccessible to the financially challenged. However, creating a focus group using twitter is fairly easy and simple to do in order to gather information on perceptions, opinions, beliefs or attitudes for a given subject.


Week two of the #SWHelper twitter study uses Twitter as the vehicle to conduct a focus group. The focus group was tasked with identifying recommendations to improve the social work degree on the BSW and MSW for the CSWE 2015 EPAS public commenting period. Social Work Helper advertised a live tweetchat on a specified date and those who were interested in discussing the innovation of the social work degree would be the participants for the focus group.  The chat consisted of educators, students, and practitioners. Participants were asked several questions during the live chat, and  then they were directed to a 7 question structured survey that took them outside of Twitter to complete.

Survey Result Highlights

When asked what is your primary concern for making changes to the social work degree, participants were given internship reform, more tech/business courses, or diversity courses to include more on lgbtq and reproductive justice as their answer choices. The results were 38 percent chose internship reform, 33 percent chose tech and business courses, and 27 percent chose the diversity answer. As the secondary concern, participants identified diversity with more lgbt and reproductive justice education at 40 percent. With over 70 percent stating there is not enough diversity education in this area in a separate yes or no question.

When asked about the types of internship reform for the BSW, participants were given the choices to reduce to 100 hours with more core classes, 200 with more core classes, remain at 400 hours, or the ability to customize based on need and work experience. For BSW internship reform, 53 participants stated students should have the ability to customized based on need and work experience with over 70 percent giving the same answer when asked about MSW internship reform.

Week’s Best Tweets

There was also a tweetchat after party that lasted for hours after the live event, but I didn’t have the stamina to continue. However, I will be able to measure those tweets as part of the of the detail study. We saw several issues emerge such as access to online education and tech access as a social justice issue. Focus groups can identify issues that may not have been on the researcher’s radar for initial consideration. However, these issues were only allowed to emerge through conversation and follow-up. To view the full tweetchat archive, go to

Challenges, Barriers, and Limitations

Taking participants off-site to complete a survey may have an effect on the number of survey participants because it takes them away from live engagement. Additionally, while conducting your focus group, participants may actually influence attitudes and opinions of other twitter users through their combined reach and potential reach during your data collection process.

Next Week Tweetchat

Join us on 3/30 at 3PM EST using the hashtag #SWHelper for Week 3 of the Twitter Study. We will be exploring using Twitter for the purpose of community organizing. For this tweet chat, I will be asking participants to identify organizations and hashtags these organizations use on Twitter in order to encourage #socialwork interaction. I will compile this information from the live twitter chat to create a twitter list for promoting interdisciplinary communication and learning via Twitter.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of

Evidence Based #SWHelper Live Twitter Chats: Open Forum Wrap Up

Yesterday, Social Work Helper held its first inaugural live twitter chat after a long hiatus, and the first chat was used as an open forum/town hall with members of the social work community both domestically and abroad to discuss twitter uses in academia and practice.

The purpose was to identify topics and issues that resonate with students, practitioners, and academics in order to micro target future chats. Additionally, it occurred to me the best way to challenge existing norms of social media use within the profession is to prove Twitter’s practical applications for data collection, resource identification, evaluation, community organizing, live event engagement, and advocacy.

There was no surprise when familiar themes emerged such as lack of branding for the profession, lack of technology core competencies being taught in social work education, ethical use of social media, and using social media in the professional space. Social Work Academia and leaders within the profession are still asking the question of whether to use social media platforms instead of how do we teach ethical use of social media and leverage them to extract data for future implications.

With the data collected from Sunday’s chat and future chats over the next six weeks, I will use this data to create a study for publication to challenge existing perceptions in the field of social work on the practical applications of twitter as a resource tool. The post for next week’s chat is soon to follow, and you can view the full archive of the chat at here:

#SWHelper Live Twitter Chats are held on Sundays at 3PM EST, and here are the week’s best tweets!


Desired Goals and Outcomes

Challenges and Barriers


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