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HOW TO: Tweet for an International Audience

July 4, 2011

At about the time I quit working for the day (6pm in Missouri, USA), nonprofits in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia are coming online for another work day. Then, over the next 12 hours, on comes nonprofits in India, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. It’s amazing what happens on Twitter during our off hours and while we are sleeping – no matter where you tweet from in the world.

Obviously nonprofits that work internationally would be wise to tweet around the clock, but even nonprofits that limit their mission and services to their own country, province, state, city, or village should experiment with being a global twitizen. There are ex-pats in every corner of the globe, media outlets of every nationality, and allies from other countries that your nonprofit does know exist yet. The world is getting smaller with each passing day, and nonprofits as the agents of social good, should try to think bigger and stretch their Twitter wings beyond their own time zones. Here’s how to begin:

1) Learn your time zones.

The World Clock at provides numerous time and date tools that make time zone conversion easy and timely (pun intended). Additionally, features a world map with current times plotted and displayed worldwide.

2) Download Google Chrome for easy translation.

Google Chrome has a built-in applet that can translate Web pages into numerous languages with one click. It’s also an incredibly fast Web browser, particularly on social sites and now accounts for 20% global market share. That said, it’s hard to tweet, mention, or retweet what you can’t understand, and of course, you’ll want to tweet your own Tweets translated in other languages. Google Chrome makes it very easy!

@AmnistiaEspana translated from Spanish:

To English:

3) Schedule Tweets using HootSuite.

I do not believe in using HootSuite to broadcast the same message to multiple social networking sites with one click (worst practice alert!), but it is a great tool for scheduling Tweets (and Facebook Status Updates and Foursquare Shouts) in advance to reach an international audience (or while you are on vacation or unable to tweet in real-time). Simply sign up, add your Twitter account to your Dashboard, and then use their Publisher tool to schedule tweets around the clock.

Scheduling a Tweet to be sent at 1:30am CDT:


Related Links:
Social Media Webinars for Nonprofits in New Zealand, Australia, and East Asia
Social Media Webinars for Nonprofits in the United States, Canada, and Latin America
Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2011 9:29 pm

    We’ve been using HS for almost a year now and it’s a truly great platform.

  2. July 9, 2011 7:49 am

    This has provided some good information

  3. August 1, 2011 1:28 pm

    Interesting article, we were not aware of Hoot Suite, we traditionally use TweetDeck which we find to be a great platform. Thanks for the tips!

  4. August 5, 2011 5:52 am

    Very interesting and suitable for our work as non profits

  5. February 2, 2012 11:16 am

    Thanks for bringing up this topic. A few thoughts from someone who worked in Geneva, at the UN and on international campaigns for several years:

    Google Translate is much improved over the early online translations, but it’s not something I’d use for translating documents or tweets. At best it’s helpful for understanding what someone else writes in another language. If you really need to translate something, get a native speaker to help you.

    North Americans: the rest of the world calls nonprofits “non-governmental organisations” or NGOs. If you want to come up in search filters, use “NGO” instead of “non-profit.”

    Americans: please don’t assume that the rest of the world knows or wants to know about everything that happens in the US. If you’re going for a truly international audience, then send out what you’d want to get from someone elsewhere.


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