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A Tale of Many Tweets: How Stakeholders Respond to Nonprofit Organizations' Tweets Open Access

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Microblogging service Twitter has taken the world by storm since its inception in 2006, growing from 340,000 users in July 2007 to 500 million active users in March 2013. At the same time, Twitter and other social media platforms are opening up new possibilities for organizations to engage with and be responsive to their stakeholders and to the public in general. Despite the widespread use of social media among nonprofit organizations, very little empirical evidence is available concerning publics' responses to the messages they are sent. This thesis describes how stakeholders respond to different communication practices on Twitter. Focusing on the organizations on the "Nonprofit Times 100" list of 2011 as well as the list of nonprofit organizations with the most Twitter followers, this study combines qualitative and quantitative analyses at both the message level and the organizational level to develop an initial understanding of effective Twitter practices among nonprofit organizations. Until recently, nonprofits have not fully taken advantage of the interactive possibilities Twitter has the potential to provide. After analyzing 3,415 tweets by 50 nonprofits, it became clear that it was difficult, if not impossible, to identify the "perfect" tweet - the type of tweet that would be most likely to elicit all types of engagement. This study's results suggest that nonprofits should target specific tweets toward retweeting and favoriting engagement, and others toward conversations - and not expect the same tweet to achieve both.

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