I was definitely not keen to start tweeting but agreed to do so after some arm twisting and it’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of social media. It has become a core tool I use to manage relationships with a range of different stakeholders as well as a fantastic source of information and contacts.
Define your audience
My top tip for managing stakeholders as a charity CEO is to define your audience. Realising that and finding the answer has made my experience of using Twitter much more rewarding. If you are clear who you want to talk to – it can evolve over time – it will help you decide what to tweet about. I decided that my primary audience was people directly affected by bowel cancer and charity supporters. My secondary audiences include people interested in bowel cancer or health policy and charity sector colleagues.
Adapt your style
The second thing I learnt was about adapting my style to fit my audience. Whilst some of my tweets are to inform people about what the charity does or thinks about a particular issue, I know that engaging in real conversation with patients and their families has been really important. In fact it’s enabled me to form strong long term relationships with a broad range of people. In turn that’s given me great insight into bowel cancer treatment and care and the impact the disease has on people’s lives.
“I feel i’ve gained a lot through using twitter but it’s also benefited the charity. We have developed great relationships with volunteers, fundraisers, and campaigners and found case studies..”
Blend the personal and professional
The third big piece of learning has been how to blend the professional and personal when communicating with stakeholders. As I have wanted to develop genuine interaction with people closely affected by bowel cancer it’s been important that there is a good dose of me in my Twitter feed. Whilst I purposefully don’t tweet that much about my home life, people respond positively when I occasionally do so. I believe that stakeholder communications on social media don’t always need to be very formal to be effective and many people have fed back to me that they like tweeting with a real person not just a logo or job title.
How it’s helped my charity
I feel I’ve gained a lot through using Twitter but it’s also benefited the charity. We have developed great relationships with volunteers, fundraisers, and campaigners and found case studies. It’s another channel to amplify our key messages. As a CEO, it can feel a bit scary to step into this world but it’s a very rewarding and valuable way to build a community for our cause.