{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Twitter has become the marketing tool of choice for the discerning charity these days - just think of a well known charity and I can almost guarantee you they'll be on Twitter. This trend has lead to some great case studies in how to use Twitter effectively, as well as a few well publicised clangers too.

What can charities who are just starting out on the long road to Tweetadise learn from these case studies? How can charity supporters do their bit to help out? Hopefully, this blog might give you a few pointers...

Tips for the charities

"Papa, don't preach!"

Nobody likes following people on Twitter when the conversation is just one way, and charities (and brands in general) are no different. Use Twitter as a conversation platform, and not just a glorified RSS feed. Your foray in to the world of Twitter won't last long if you just broadcast.

Building up a follower list is important, but shouldn't be your top priority. If you're lucky enough to have supporters who are already using Twittter, make sure you make connecting with these folk the first job on your 'To Do' list.

After the initial settling-in period, don't slip in to an easy rhythm of pumping-out updates and ignoring the conversation. As I've quoted on so many other occasions, we've got two ears and one mouth for a reason...

"I am not a number!"

This is another one that I've seen lots of charities falling in to on a regular basis: obsessing over the numbers. Whilst your follower count is a useful metric to record, and a great way of tracking how well your message is being seen, it's not the be-all and end-all.

Just like nobody wants to talk to the guy at the party who is always looking for somebody more interesting to talk to, followers on Twitter don't want to be made to feel like they're just numbers. Tweets like "Hey guys, we're only 100 followers away from 5,000..." just make your followers feel like they're not valued. If you make yourself interesting and valuable, people will tell their friends about you naturally. Begging for more followers is just embarrassing, in my opinion. 

"Listen, do you want to know a secret?"

As well as taking part in the conversations which already *include* you, Twitter makes it very easy for you to see what other people are saying about you even if they haven't @messaged you. Setting up a few saved searches is a great way to keep up with public opinion, as well as allowing you to spot opportunities to engage with supporters or fans who hadn't yet realised you were on Twitter.

To take the party analogy I mention earlier one step further, you don't need to be the guy at the party who buts in to every conversation. But if a supporter or fan is talking about you in a positive light, you'd have to be a cold-hearted tweeter to get upset if you got @messaged by the charity in question. 

"Repeat after me"

Retweeting is a very useful tool for sharing information, and used sparingly can be a really useful way of sourcing good content for your twitter account without having to rewrite it yourself. Retweeting mentions of your brand from other people can be a great way of highlighting the good work you're doing, often without having to look like you're just being all "me me me". 

"That's what friends are for"

If you've got lots of existing supporters online, don't be afraid to lean on them for support when you first get on to a new social platform like Twitter. When The Prince's Trust [disclaimer: Tamar client] first joined Twitter, they utilised their amazing network of celebrity ambassadors to give them a quick follower boost - one tweet from Stephen Fry alone almost tripled the follower numbers.

Charities like the Dogs Trust have done the same; if you're holding events, ask attendees to live-tweet and post pictures. Even if you don't have any friends-in-high-places, why not use Twitter's friend finder to dig through your CRM list to find supporters who already use the site? 

Tips for supporters

"I will follow you"

If you have charities that you regularly support or donate to, search them out on Twitter and follow them, they need your support! It's all very well sticking a twibbon on your photo, or tweeting a link to a sponsorship page, but a follow is much more useful for them long term (at least from a marketing perspective).

To paraphrase a famous charity campaign of yesteryear, a Twitter follow is for life, not just for Christmas. While we're on the subject of marketing, try to actually click their links from time to time too. Just like all brands, charities will be looking to prove the effectiveness of Twitter as a tool - being able to show that links posted are clicked on is just one of many ways they can do this, but it's one you can quite easily help with. Go on, give them a click!

"Help me, Rhonda"

This tip might provoke a bit of a backlash from charities, as I've experienced something similar when I've tweeted along these lines before: Asking celebrities to retweet your message is a lot less effective than you might hope.

As somebody who has done a lot of marketing work with celebrities and charities, I've always been amazed and slightly disappointed at how ineffective retweets can be as a medium to drive action. Don't get me wrong, they're great for raising awareness, which is why I included them above.

But as a call-to-action, their effectiveness is limited. Asking Kevin Spacey to retweet a link to your Just Giving page might feel nice when he complies, but nine times out of 10 you'll see no effect from this posting at all, unless all of Spacey's followers REALLY connect with your story or cause, it's very unlikely they'll click.

So my message here is, use celebrities sparingly and effectively. Try to put yourself in the shoes of both them and their followers, and ask yourself whether you'd click the link if the tables were turned.

"Start spreading the news!"

There are numerous ways you can share the love on Twitter - especially for good causes. Whether you retweet their updates, add a Twibbon to your avatar, post a "sponsored" tweet during an event or just straight-up tell people to follow them, spreading the news is a great thing to do. Charities need support in everything they do, and Twitter is no different. 

"Give us your f***ing money"

This last tip might seem a little patronising, but it's a point worth making - charities (mostly) survive on donations from supporters, so don't forget to keep up this side of the bargain too. Adding a Poppy logo to your avatar might be a great tool to spread awareness, but it's no substitute for a real poppy, and the donation that goes with it. Try not to forget this when you're following your favourite charities on Twitter, or indeed any other platform. 

And finally

Those are my tips - take them or leave them, agree or disagree, I don't really mind. But if you get nothing more from this post than remembering to follow your favourite charity, I think my work here is done! 

Henry Elliss

Published 2 November, 2010 by Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss is a senior strategist at Good Relations and contributor at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or via his own parenting blog.

18 more posts from this author

Comments (26)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Roberto Kusabbi

I like your website and many of your resources, I find them useful and engaging. However articles like this I find really patronising and basic, there really is nothing new here and the ABC basic tips are widely avaliable elsewhere. I work for a UK based charity and I speak to other charity digital folk everyday on twitter and in real life. Many of us have been using twitter and other social media tools way before brands did to engage with our supporters. Plus we have the added benefit of being trusted by people, compared to many brands who are met with much distrust. We are also much more responsible in our twitter use, when do you hear about a charity calling supporters X or a Habitat intern type issue? Hardly ever. Many charities have been using twitter for years, to spread the message, raise awareness and to help add value to events, from small to large. You say: "This is another one that I've seen lots of charities falling in to on a regular basis." Fine, that is a good point, but not exclusive to charities. Also - who? What charities? What examples? I can understand you not wanting to name and shame but at the same time it sounds like a patronising view of charities who just look at the bottom line. Your point about charities and celebrities is a good one and I agree. But there is little you can do about this and it is the supporters right to do what they like. Sure we have a place to help and guide but they just want to help. It happens. I would have liked to have seen much more pressing issues covered; fragmenting a brand on social media, how many presences should you have? What do you do about groups? How can you montenise? These are much more interesting issues and relevant topics to cover than the ABC tips above. There are already many not for profit tweetups - such as the NFPtweetup where much more advanced debate from a wide range of charities disucss this topic in much better detail. I could go on, but I don't want to rant. I suppose my main point is that your points are not exclusive to charities but to all orngasiatons - and give me more value! Rant over. Apologies, I just found it a bit patronising...

over 5 years ago

Jacqui O'Beirne

Jacqui O'Beirne, Digital Manager at Dogs TrustSmall Business

I agree with a lot of what Robert has said above, this is the terminology we have been using for years to explain Twitter to others, its not a new concept nor is it rocket science. We may be charities but we are all also consummate professionals and twitter users that know the etiquette. Its wrong to single us out. However I have to question your comment "To paraphrase a famous charity campaign of yesteryear, a Twitter follow is for life, not just for Christmas." As the Digital Marketing Manager at Dogs Trust we have just started pushing this message out again online. Its far from a yesteryear campaign and a simple peek at our Twitter Feed late last weeek would show its still very much live and kicking!

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Thanks for the feedback guys - I'm sorry you felt that the post was patronising, it's not meant in  that way. Econsultancy acts as a resource for a wide range of brands and organisations, and blog posts usually cover a wide spectrum of topics and "skill levels". Perhaps I should have changed the title to reflect it being a good list for beginners, or people just setting out?

As for my reference to the "Dog is not for Christmas" line, I do apologise that I'm not up on  this years  message. I think you've picked a corking slogan to revive, so good luck with that.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tom

Robert, relax! It's clear that you're not the intended audience, the 3rd sentence is "What can charities who are just starting out on the long road to Tweetadise learn from these case studies?" so it's not aimed at you or the many other organisations who have been successfully using twitter for years.

Your point about there being nothing here which hasn't been said before very true though, the web is full of "beginners" and "how to" guides which often lack substance and examples - it would be great to see more real life guides linking to examples so these tips can be placed in context - the case studies featured in the article lack any real detail.

But the fact that this article as been tweeted ~100 times in the last hour does suggest that there is still a large audience for these guides, and that although you can find similar articles all over the web, perhaps the Econsultancy brand carries more weight and authority than similarly produced pieces.

And for people who are past the A-B-C's, things like the NFPtweetups are definitely the way to go and need more exposure to twitter beginners who will read this guide. 

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

RobertO Kusabbi

I did wonder if I was being precious or not Tom, but I just found the tone slightly patronising. I also think that these points are not exclusive to charities, is there any difference between what a charity and a corporate want to do on Twitter? Both want to to make sure that they raise brand awareness, both want to raise funds and do it at a balanced ROI. It has been retweeted a lot, indeed but what is this adding to the social media debate? These tips have been repeated at lenght, would love to see some real indepth insight into the points I mention above. Then again...maybe I am being precious. Least I have started the comments going under the blog! ;)

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Thanks Robert - feel free to chip in with some suggestions of your own, if mine aren't to your liking.

As for my tone being patronising, I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about that.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Roberto Kusabbi

More than happy to but I don't get paid to blog on E-consultancy.... Think there is something you can do about patronising tone though? Surely as a communciator you are in control of your words and your writing style? Just adding into the debate...that's all.

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Just for your clarification Roberto, I don't get paid by Econsultancy. See that box at the end, that says "Guest blogger"? That is what I am...

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Roberto Kusabbi

Same difference, the point about the tone of voice still stands. I think my points have been balanced and honest. I understand where you are coming from, I see that the article is aimed at beginners but just think as a head of social media there might be more to add. Didn't mean to offend. Just comment how I saw it.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tom

Maybe someone wants to be Econsultancy's next guest blogger.... ;)

Tthis piece could be a good start of a series of tips - starting with beginners it can now move up to cover more "advanced" areas such as brand fragmentation and ROI

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Roberto Kusabbi

lol @Tome - not for me I don't think... An advanced series would be interesting for sure. Fragmentation, ROI, measurements (hackneyed I know) would be very interesting I am sure... Also what I haven't seen mentioned much is actually tackling staff issues, how do you get your staff involved in the day to day? I know how we are doing it - be interesting to see others.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rachel Beer

I agree with Roberto that - whist possibly useful for the few charities without experience of Twitter - this has all been said many times before, over the past two years in particular, which is possibly why it feels a bit patronising now. The fact that this article has been retweeted so many times may be more the result of a well-crafted, Twitter-friendly headline (hats off to you there). A tweet containing the words, 'Twitter' and 'tips', virtually guarantees retweets, but it doesn't necessarily mean the link was even clicked before it was retweeted, but if your analytics say otherwise, I'd be interested to know - and happy to be proven wrong! :) I think what Roberto and Jacqui say is true - the charity sector has the edge on a lot of for profit organisations in its use of Twitter. This is partly, as Roberto says, because people are open to the work of good causes and because charities and nonprofits usually have genuinely engaging and interesting things to talk about, that many people care about deeply, rather than products and services to market. It's also because charities have quite emotional relationships with their supporters and this way of communicating translates so well, and so genuinely, through social media. But it's also because charities are arguably much more willing to share their successes and failures with each other for the greater good more generously than many corporate brands might be inclined to - you can see this in action over the past two years through NFPtweetup. Because the tactical tips have been a bit done to death, and the charity sector is full of experts who have been tweeting for one or more charity for some time - as well as specialists with experience of helping a range of charities to use social media across many disciplines more effectively - I feel strongly that what the sector really needs now is to look to the next level, become far more strategic with social media and integrate this really effectively with other on and offline activities, as well as throughout organisations. Whilst we aim to cater for every level at NFPtweetup, we also try to move the conversation and the sector forward - which can be a challenge, like most things that are worth doing. Very happy to be Econsultancy's next guest blogger. Although I think I might have to develop a thick skin, judging by the comments I might get! ;)

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Thanks Rachel - I'm genuinely pleased that the charity sector feels, in general, that they're already doing social media well. Whilst I agree that this is true in lots of examples, the fact that there are over 150,000 registered charities in the UK alone means that there are a LOT of charities who haven't even taken a first step on the ladder yet.

I appreciate that the charity sector are very proud of their achievements in this area, but it feels a bit like the retail sector claiming success in online marketing simply because Sainsburys have a strong Twitter following. The big names may have it cracked, but I guarantee you there are lots who haven't...

Thanks very much for the comment, Rachel. And I promise to be nice if you do a guest blog of your own! : )

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rob Dyson

So I was refraining from getting stuck in, but *sigh*..In defence of the author...

Despite having been tweeting for over two years - individually and for charity accounts - and having heard all of this before (sorry Henry) and even being in possession of an NFPtweetup T-shirt (no, really..), I still recognise that the huge popularity of seminars, conferences and courses in "Twitter for beginners" implies that there is a rich audience for articles like this. Third Sector, CharityComms, and Sounddelivery - to name just three - still sell out for (what some of us might deem) pretty basic courses.

In the last month, I have had three charities approach me for advice on literally 'starting a Twitter account' - one just today; so perhaps "we" aren't the audience?

If I were a really small charity and signed up to Twitter today, I would find some of these tips useful (nicely done, Henry).

Equally, I've probably been guilty of teaching people to suck eggs on my own blog, and in seminars. But if someone absolutely green to Twitter were to read and heed this post, and learn a thing or two, I don't think that's so bad. Horses for courses and all that.

#peaceandlove

Rob

over 5 years ago

Jacqui O'Beirne

Jacqui O'Beirne, Digital Manager at Dogs TrustSmall Business

Robert, Rob, Rachel et al, for me the issue is the fact I (yes me myself !) pay to be a part of this site and 99.99999999% of the time its great and I learn a lot from it. The info in the article is great and does have an audience, just maybe not this site? How many charities are aware it exists, let alone thier supporters? As previously mentioned the RT rate is good but what about the page views? If they are not on Twitter yet how do they find it? Maybe, for me, the slightly miffed feeling is coming from the fact that, personally this was the one place I could come and not be labelled as 'Charity' but be involved in discussion as a Digital Marketing professional. These are my views and not those of Dogs Trust.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rob Dyson

@Jacqui - it's all about the viral loop surely? You might stumble across the site because of key words "Twitter" "tips" using your favourite search engine? I don't think a lot of people care - or even notice - where they find information that's useful for them; just that they found it in the first place.

But then I'm not a core user of econsultancy, and was alerted to this particular post by Roberto on Twitter...

Tell you what, it must be getting *loads* of hits today :)

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

ManxCat637

Henry,

Thanks for your article. I'm a professional author, but not a digital media specialist (i get lots of help from others in this area). I'm involved in starting up a new charitable project, and found your comments very helpful - so for our part, thank you!

Cat

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

@ManxCat637 Thanks for that, Cat - very much appreciated, believe me!

@Rob / @Jacqui Just to clarify, the Econsultancy blog is open to paying and non-paying members alike, isn't it? (That's a genuine question, not me being patronising, I promise!)

I completely agree that if I'd posted this as a white-paper or an industry report, I would have been missing a trick not to include some case studies, as well as some more next-level tips. But as it's for the blog, which everyone can view, I didn't think this was quite so crucial.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rob Dyson

Yep, I didn't pay to get here - and my point was anyone could stumble across the info (such as Cat) and find it useful ;)

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

John Scott Cothill

By far, the best article I have read on eConsultancy for a long time. I'll be forwarding this on to quite a few that I know that just don't get it at the moment.

Desperately would like to see the end of tweets as you mentioned, "Hey guys, we're only 100 followers away from 5,000...".

THUMBS UP!

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rachel Beer

Couldn't agree more, John!

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Damien Clarkson

Hi Guys,

Everyone is making some great points. This article is a really good starting point for someone new to Twitter, ok maybe e-consultancy isn't the best forum for a introductory post.

But as @Robdyson rightly points out basic social media courses regularly sell out. I recently attended an "advanced social media session" by a big training provider NOT mentioned in this thread and received advice which comprised of not alot more than the following statement.

"Do 20 of your best tweets and then go and follow hundreds of people who look like they maybe interested in what you do then unfollow them if they don't follow you back in a couple of days"

If this article saves small charities with limited resources paying for courses which they don't need to attend maybe it is worth a couple of us feeling a bit patronised?

I am looking forward to the guest blog already Rachel. 

Cheers,

Damien

over 5 years ago

Stuart Witts

Stuart Witts, Tall Man with Glasses

It's a shame that Twitter itself doesn't take charity as seriously as some of the commentators on this post.

Every single second of every single day I see a deluge of tweets about people doing good and that is why I get SO frustrated when I see opportunities to amplify those positive emotions wasted. And my public enemy number one for wastage is the official account from Twitter highlighting the forces of good… @hope140

It sounds like the most perfect of all things, Twitter has officially decided to highlight those who would use there 140 characters to do good. All of the difficulties in attracting followers for us non-verified’s simply pale in comparison to Twitter’s official voice, but unfortunately all is not well in the state of California.

As of writing, @hope140 has only posted 111 tweets. 111 tweets?. With the wind at my back, I can almost hit that number in a day. How can the champion of all that is good on Twitter only have managed that number in just over 4 months?

Another troublesome figure is @hope140’s follow count. Sure they’ve got 18,272 followers, not a HUGE number but a respectable one. However they are only following back 85. I have a MUCH bigger number than that of people I follow whom I consider close friends, let alone the hundreds of people I follow who are in their own way each doing good. People like @Tweeetstreet, @CRUKWalton, @Togetherforcure, @HaveFunDoGood and many, many others who tirelessly promote anyone and everyone who chooses to invest their time in making the world a better place for others.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

stuart

Thank you Henry Elliss Just say I attended a charities conference in the South west today and having read your blog the day before I passed on the content to a few of the delegates. (There were over 100 charities being represented) All the delegates work in the charity sector and to a man they were all full of praise about the tips and advice Henry highlighted. As digital marketers we sometimes forget that we are all over familiar with social media, SEO etc – but to those involved in working in the charity sector, who have limited budgets the advice was very well received Great Blog! Shame about the negative replies

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Howard Lake

I agree that there is still a demand from quite a few charities on how to get started and develop their use of Twitter, but I agree with Roberto's initial reaction to this guest blog post.

I do so for two reasons. First, Henry includes hardly any examples of good or bad practice by charities. His tips are simply a guide to using Twitter, and they apply equally to companies, individuals, and charities.

While some commentators have clearly found these basic tips useful, I would have welcomed more examples of what particular charities have achieved, attempted and tested on Twitter. 

Similarly it would have been helpful for Henry to have indicated what some individuals have achieved for charities by using Twitter.

Secondly, it looks like Henry has addressed only how charities could use Twitter to fundraise. While that is my area of interest, I would encourage him to see Twitter as a tool to support many other functions - campaigning, staff and volunteer recruitment, staff development, donor/customer service etc.

Furthermore, Henry's focus on Twitter as a fundraising tool seemed to focus primarily on fundraising as making an ask. Yet Twitter offers much more to fundraisers, including prospect research, fundraising advice, access to back channels at conferences, and the ability to locate influencers.

For these reasons I share the dissatisfaction of many of the commentators.

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Thanks Graham - SEO for the win! : )

over 5 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.