Grow your nation with more engaging default tweets

By default, NationBuilder will automatically import anyone who mentions or retweets one of your broadcasters into your database as a “prospect.” For known supporters, it’ll log an activity on their profile that they retweeted you. And once they’re in your database, NationBuilder will match these social media accounts to your existing database and email list — giving you an unmatched ability to identify potential leaders who can help grow your community.

Because of all this, optimizing your site’s default tweets — the tweets that are suggested when someone clicks a page’s “tweet” button or shares via NationBuilder’s “social sharing prompt” — can be extremely important. But how do you do that? And what is an optimal tweet, anyway? Luckily, Twitter tells us — and their recommendations are easy to implement in NationBuilder.

Best Practices

In March 2014, Twitter published a blog post titled “What fuels a Tweet’s engagement?” in which they broke down how changing a tweet could affect how many times it was retweeted. The results show pretty clearly that there are two things you ought to be including in your default tweets: photos and (relevant) hashtags.

Screenshot: The effect on retweets of… 

Editing default tweets

First, the basics.

Each page on your NationBuilder website has customizable “Social media” settings, in which you can specify a “default tweet.” If your theme is built properly, this is the text that will automatically pre-fill the textarea when someone clicks the “tweet” button on a page — and, perhaps more importantly, it’ll be the text they’re prompted to tweet after taking an action.

To learn more about how this works, check out NationBuilder’s documentation on how to grow your nation with Facebook & Twitter.

Including photos in default tweets

NationBuilder does not include native support for Twitter Photos in its default tweet prompts, meaning that you’ll need to be a bit creative. But with a few simple steps, you can include a photo as part of the suggested tweet for each page — and potentially increase your retweets by as much as 62% as a result.

Here’s how:

  1. Select / design the photo or graphic you want to include.

    Twitter’s report didn’t specify what sort of image you ought to include with your tweets, so there’s a bit of art here. You could use an infographic, a custom image + text graphic, or a genuine photo. So long as it’s relevant and interesting, it ought to do.

  2. Tweet that image from your account.

    The next step is to share that image via Twitter, preferably in the context of sharing the page on which you intend to ultimately use it. Why? We need the image to have a permanent URL that we can copy.

  3. Copy the image’s URL.

    In order to add the image to NationBuilder’s default tweet prompt, we need to copy it’s unique URL. It should look something like this:

    Screenshot: A tweet with a URL

  4. Paste the URL copied in Step 3 into the default tweet prompt.

    By now, I suspect you’ve gathered what we’re doing. Now that the photo exists on Twitter, any tweet that includes its URL will display the photo. By including it as part of the default tweet (preferably after the suggested text), it’ll automatically be shown whenever someone tweets the page.

    Note: the copied URL will appear as a URL, not as a That’s because Twitter has automatically shortened it. Have faith; it will work.

  5. Save the default tweet prompt.

    You’re good to go.

Including hashtags in default tweets

Including hashtags in default tweets is pretty much a no-brainer: just write the hashtag in with the tweet text. Except that it isn’t. That won’t work.

NationBuilder takes the text that you enter into the default tweet prompt and URL encodes it, ultimately creating a single, complex link that triggers the pre-filled new tweet prompt. But while you can enter text into the box with no trouble, NationBuilder gets confused when you add “special characters” like hashtags: it doesn’t properly URL encode them, so instead the new tweet URL breaks.

It’s frustrating, but there’s an easy work around. Instead of using the hashtag (‘#’), write ‘%23’ (the URL encoded version of the hashtag). You’re basically doing NationBuilder’s work for it by pre-encoding the hashtag, and it’ll work like a charm. When Twitter’s tweet prompt opens, the hashtag will appear normally.


Now you’re all set to start growing your nation’s database with significantly improved Twitter engagement. You can see all the places where you can put this knowledge to work by navigating within your Control Panel to Website > Social, where you’ll see a list of existing pages’ social media settings.

Go to town on it.

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