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8 ways charities should leverage Twitter | A Guide


We love charities here at Audiense. Let’s face it, they do amazing things. So today we want to highlight what Twitter can do for nonprofit organisations and showcase some of the great charities that are using Twitter incredibly well.

Recent research figures by Visceral show that the top 100 largest charities saw a 193% increase in Twitter followers in the last year alone. Pretty impressive figures! Unsurprisingly, this has not gone unnoticed (we didn’t think it would!). Neither has the fact that Twitter creates a more level playing field between small and large charities, making it possible for small nonprofit organisations with very limited resources to effectively connect and engage with new and existing supporters at little to no cost.

So what’s the big deal about engaged Twitter followers for charities anyway?

Well, they can make all the difference.Take Peter Dunn for example, who this January used Twitter to help raise $41,000 within 24 hours for Wheeler Mission to help feed the homeless in times of freezing weather conditions.

I'm donating $100 per inch of snow tomorrow (airport measure) to @WheelerMission. Who will join me? Any $$ per inch would be great.
— Peter Dunn (@PeteThePlanner) January 4, 2014

However, some charities are still finding their way with Twitter.  Almost half of participants in Visceral’s survey rated the effectiveness of their social strategies as less than 6/10. We’re on a mission to improve that figure!  So here are a few top tips and examples of charities using Twitter very well.

1. Give behind the scenes updates

Twitter is the perfect platform to humanise your charity’s brand. Using 140 character tweets and pictures you can show your community how your organisation is making a difference. It allows you to strengthen your relationship with followers and attract new supporters.

Save the children post tweets accompanied by images to show how their volunteers interact and help children, and include an emotional aspect with their tweets by using phrases such as “a tangible reminder that people care and want to help”. Tweets like this help form an emotional connection with your community and highlights your good work whilst not directly asking them for anything.

Our staff giving Syrian kids new @TOMS Shoes, a tangible reminder that people care & want to help. #ChildrenofSyria
— Save the Children (@SavetheChildren) January 19, 2014

2. Share your success stories

Twitter offers a great way to showcase the results of your organisation’s and your volunteers’ hard work. Make-A-Wish Foundation tweets about the experiences they have been able to provide for terminally ill children with the help of donors. These donations enable some of these children’s dreams to come true and the tweets enable their community to be part of the experience. Allowing people to see for themselves the difference this charity makes in young children's lives means they are likely to attract more people who want to help.

MT @isagenix: A girl’s wish to go to Paris has been granted thanks to @MakeAWish, #Isagenix employees & associates!
— Make-A-Wish America (@MakeAWish) January 17, 2014

Success stories don’t just have to come from you own organisation. Retweeting supporters’  achievements not only makes them feel valued but also shows other followers what they can do too. These tweets act as a type of “word of mouth” and encourage involvement.

Really pleased raised £370 so far for Cancer Research
— Ross Lawley (@RossC0) January 16, 2014

3. Utilize your influencers

People who have a large influence on Twitter are extremely important to nonprofit organisations as they have the power to expand your reach and encourage involvement from Twitter users that normally would have been out of reach.

Charities that are lucky enough to have celebrities as ambassadors or supporters are much more likely to create better awareness for their cause. For example, Young Minds Vs has Frankie Sandford from the Saturdays backing their cause. By tweeting to her almost 1,250,000 followers, Young Minds Vs have grown their awareness and support.

So happy to be launching @youngmindsvs today. Get involved and help #fightthepressure
— Francesca Sandford (@FrankieTheSats) January 20, 2014

It doesn’t always have to be celebrities that help spread a message, companies such as Santander are helping by supporting and promoting charities (in this case the NSPCC).

This year we hope to raise £1m to support our Charity of the Year @NSPCC and the ChildLine Schools Service
— Santander UK (@santanderuk) January 20, 2014

Twitter can also be used as a way to connect with new influencers. Celebrities will often tweet about causes close to their heart, which is why it’s a good idea to reach out to celebrities that care about your cause and make your organisation known to them. This is a better strategy than asking celebrities who you have not spoken to before to simply retweet your messages. Focus on those that have a connection to your cause. Then leverage their influence during campaigns/ times of crisis and involve them when thinking about new ways to raise donations.

4. Tweet content about your cause

Your followers follow you because they care about what you do, and want to help you achieve your goals. Twitter is an excellent way to keep them updated and informed about your cause. By tweeting links to facts and figures, news articles, blog posts and videos you can act as a news source and add value by educating your followers. This is a great way to attract more followers, increase donations and increase volunteer numbers as people are more likely to understand your cause and the challenges your organisation face.

Oxfam uses their Twitter page to update people on what is going on around the world as well as voice their opinions on what needs to be done to solve poverty and inequality.

Disaster on top of disaster: Storms wreak havoc in typhoon-hit #Philippines #Haiyan #YolandaPH
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) January 20, 2014

5. Show your charity’s personality

Although you are using Twitter for a serious reason and providing people with useful information, developing and showing your charity’s personality will help keep followers and gain retweets.

Dog’s Trust keeps things lighthearted and cute and tweets retweetable posts that are enjoyable to read and look at. Retweets can be seen as effortless advertising and word of mouth, allowing your tweets to be seen by people outside of your current community and potentially resulting in new followers.

Charlie here is wishing all of our followers and friends a very Happy Friday. Thank you for your continued support!
— Dogs Trust (@DogsTrust) January 17, 2014

If all of your tweets are factual, your potential for retweets will be less. So make sure you find the right balance.

6. Make use of hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to increase your awareness, promote your campaigns and events, and to track conversations around your charity/cause e.g. to find potential volunteers. By searching for users tweeting a relevant hashtag, you can engage with people who have an interest in your cause and may want to help you.

Last November saw the amazing case of Miles Scott, a 5 year old Leukaemia survivor whose Make a Wish Foundation dream was to become a superhero for the day. 200-300 people were estimated to take part in Mile’s wish but thanks to the power of social media and the internet over 20,000 people wanted to be a part of this special day. The hashtags #SFBatkid and #Batkid received 545,576 tweets on the 17th of November, spread over 117 countries, totalling a potential reach of 777,453,544 which would not be possible without Twitter!

The support they received here was outstanding and demonstrates what can be achieved by utilizing social media to help others.

This photo of #SFBatKid is everything. Thanks for making our city safe, Miles!
— Carmen Kiew (@carmenkiew) November 16, 2013

7. Engage with your community

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Twitter over other mediums is the ability to have two way conversations with your community and get to know them. Whilst a conversation alone might not result in an instant donation, it could result in future donations or fundraising activities.

You can build up relationships in a number of ways. A particularly good way is by starting engaging discussions, as demonstrated by Macmillan in South West England here:

What are your #PhrasesIHate about cancer? Tell us this #CancerTalk Week
— MacPRCentralSW (@MacPRCentralSW) January 20, 2014

8. Thank your community

Your community is volunteering, donating, raising awareness and raising money because they care about your cause. Thanking them on Twitter and making them feel valued is crucial. Tweet people personally or send out a public thank you to your whole community.

You guys did amazing things to show you care in 2013. Thank you. We've made a video to celebrate. Happy New Year!
— JustGiving (@JustGiving) January 1, 2014

This post has shown 8 ways that Twitter can be utilized to help charities raise awareness for their cause and connect with people in ways not possible offline. It’s important to remember that effectiveness shouldn’t just be measured by how many donations you receive via Twitter. Twitter should be seen as a long term investment in creating and building loyal relationships that over time will promote your charity, spread awareness and ultimately attract volunteers and donations.

Remember, Twitter is a two way communication, make sure you listen to your community.  Focus on finding those who already care about your cause and engage to build up relationships. If your organisation needs a helping hand with this, Twitter managements platforms, such as Audiense, can provide you with a range of  advanced Twitter analytics and managements tools to help you make your Twitter strategy a success.

Plus it’s free! You can click here to download the free version of Audiense.


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