Twitter is not the spawn of the devil

Rotarian Andy Muchall a retired Special Needs teacher and Past President of the Rotary Club of Formby in District 1180 who is currently its Chair of Foundation and International. He has been a Rotarian from 2001 (with a short break) who has a sense of pride in that, despite all our inadequacies, Rotary achieves so much. 

In this weekend’s edition of RotaryBlogger, Andy presents his experiences of introducing social media to his Club and to Rotary in general.

Guest Blogger – Andy Muchall

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Tell me, when you enter your Rotary Club meeting, do you set your watch to a few minutes before 1989?

Why 1989? Well that was the year Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web – the Internet.

Of course this is not true of your club members (some set their watches MUCH further back than that, I hear you say). After all, it is understood that around 99% of Rotarians in the these islands have an e-mail address, even if a high proportion do not actually read e-mails (see your Club Secretary for confirmation of this fact).

Your club probably has a website, even if your tech guy is the only one who looks at it. So if your club is like mine, e-mail is probably as far into ‘social media’ as anyone really wants to go. It was therefore something of a shock when I announced about a week ago that I thought it would be a good idea if our club had a presence on Twitter. Through this blog I will share with you the general two main responses from the typical Club Rotarians that I have found when speaking of any kind of social media.

Response Number One:

“Twitter! I am not going anywhere near that thing, never in a month of Sundays, not ever, NEVER!”

Behind this comment is a veritable iceberg of fear and innuendo. The comment is made with an inherent understanding that getting involved in Twitter (and heaven forefend, Facebook) is tantamount to descending into the 9th pit of hell on the backs of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Posting anything on Facebook, even if they knew how, means that you can expect that very evening for hordes of teens and Hell’s Angels to appear on one’s doorstep asking when the Rave starts, playing deafening Hop-Hip Garage Rap to your neighbours before throwing up over the chihuahua.

Suggestions from me that with over 100 million downloads and over four million people worldwide rating Twitter as four or five out of five stars does not actually cut the mustard with the person making response one…Best to give up now.

Response Number Two:

Why would I want to join Twitter?

Now this is a very reasonable question. On a lower level that response one, there is a suggestion here of “Why would a sane, responsible person like me want to converse, even in short sentences of 140 characters or less, with depraved Premiership footballers flogging baseball caps or ex-contestants from Strictly and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here?”.

You could try to tell them that they can actually link to like-minded people and develop their interests in a friendly environment. You can even explain to them that they can be on Twitter and NEVER post a message to anyone,  but this does not hide the fact that this is actually the wrong question.

What they SHOULD be asking is ‘Why should a Rotary Club want to be on Twitter?’

Now a real question for you. In the UK last year, how much money was donated on-line and via mobile phones, according to the Guardian newspaper?

  1. £5 million
  2. £50 million
  3. £500 million
  4. none of the above

The correct answer is 4). The actual amount donated was £2.6 BILLION. That is 2.6 followed by an obscene number of noughts. Fact: Twitter is on-line and on mobile phones and on-track to be a massive fundraising opportunity for organisations such as Rotary.

I know that Rotary Clubs do not exist solely to collect and distribute charity, but while you are standing this Christmas freezing by a Carol Wagon or knocking on doors for a few coppers, be aware that Twitter is one tiny cash stream that could lead your club towards a vast lake of money.

How? Twitter works in both directions. It builds links with an amazing variety of like-minded contacts and gets the Rotary message ‘out there’, but perhaps more importantly it brinks information back to you, ideas and people from outside Rotary who, having seen the Rotary message, want to talk about it and develop practical suggestions with your club of mutual benefit to them and you.

Final Point: In the same Guardian article I mentioned earlier 250 UK charities and social enterprises (like Rotary) were asked about their social media activity and of them 94% were represented on Twitter and Facebook. So is it just possible your club could be missing out on something?

You can follow Andy Muchall on Twitter @ChesterAstro

You can also follow @RotaryBlogger on Twitter

  Image by Andy Melton by CC

6 thoughts on “Twitter is not the spawn of the devil

  1. says:

    Andy has obviously been to a lot of clubs. Me too, so many still do not own a mobile, or they do but it is only in their pockets so their partners can contact them in an emergency. My own club has a facebook page and more people from outside the club view it than in….it is an uphill struggle but then so was using nail scissors and toothpaste….on the other hand Just for Men is finally accepted 🙂

  2. says:

    My Club does now have a presence on both Facebook and Twitter. It only took 3 years to get it the members permission. Most members do not follow the pages. Most members do at some time look at our website. Most do not log in so miss lots of information, they ring instead to find it out. Most look at their emails, but not regularly. They find it strange when I ask how often do they look at their normal mail. Of cause they say “every day”! Most of our members have progressed to pen and ink but some may well still be using tablets of stone. As to charitable donations, the charity I started to help in Kenyan schools would not get any money if it was not for the internet and could not really operate at all. As for Gift Aid and the Charity Commission, no internet no money or registration.

  3. says:

    Our Club has both Facebook and Twitter accounts although to be fair Facebook is the better used. We also send out a weekly email newsletter to our membership, and have now reached a staggering 70% readership !

  4. Tony Wiseman says:

    After tweeting for Rotary in Croydon for the last two years I can confirm that it can be an informative and rewarding experience.

    1900 tweets have generated a local audience of just over 900, successful promotion of our classic car day and a much increased profile for Missing People reports. I have learned a great deal about what is going on in the town and formed a number productive links with other local tweeters.

    Our club now has a platform from which to promote Rotary in general and membership of our club in particular.

    Based on this experience a careful, positive approach, patience and persistance can deliver a powwerful, controlable, effective and free PR tool.

  5. I agree. Twitter is a powerful tool for connecting within and without Rotary. It lets us find out what is going on right now, as well as being a very powerful search tool. Most clubs are mentioned in some way or other on Twitter, even if they do not have their own club twitter page. Far better for clubs to take charge of their own reputation on Twitter rather than leaving that to secondary comments.

    A senior Rotarian recently asked me how many new members Twitter had brought into Rotary. I note @RotaryGBI is now asking joiners (through their website) how they first heard of Rotary. Would be helpful to know what percentage tick the “via socialmedia” option.

    Different types of socialmedia suit different people. The important thing is to communicate.

  6. Great blog post, I couldn’t agree more! I am a Rotaractor in District 1130 – I joined Rotaract after reading a tweet about the End Polio Now campaign (I can’t remember who the tweet was from but I know it wasn’t from a Rotaract Club).

    In case you haven’t seen them already, I have found these Twitter lists of Rotary Clubs and Rotarians on Twitter by Paul Wilson really useful:


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