social media top charities

5 social media tips for Charities

By Paul Morris
Social Media is underutilised by many charities hence, whilst there is no magic formula, I thought it pertinent to put down some of my thoughts on how to optimise the Social Media channel for Good.

1/ Just Do It!

It’s more important than ever (see recession + reduced donations + the changing way in which people engage) to stand out from the charity crowd.

If you want to tell your story, increase trust, reach out, maximise ROI and showcase results then living in the streams of people’s consciousness is a great way of doing it.

As I will show later in my 3 examples of innovation, Social Media is a great way of giving people ideas on how they can get involved and then supporting them in doing so thus making them a truly involved advocate of your charity.

2/ Think SOSTAC

I use SOSTAC as a marketing planning tool and you should too.

I’m not going to run through it in detail here (See my revised SOSTAC model post for that) however thought it pertinent to pick out some key points from this acronym.

(1st + 2nd S) Ensure you have a strategy for your Social Media activity!!! It’s all well and good trying to be brilliantly represented across the biggies (facebook, twitter, you tube, linkedin, flickr, vimeo, pinterest, google plus, tumblr, digg, foursquare, instagram, spotify and tumblr) however do you really have the resource to do them all well?

You need to understand which channels are important to your target markets e.g. Linkedin for recruitment, journalists and ‘professionals’, twitter for journalists, celebrities and politicians, Google+ + Facebook for supporters and beneficiaries, Pinterest, YouTube and flickr for telling your story in an impactful manner, etc

…and target them appropriately.

Note: If I had to pick a top 4 then it would generally be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin with Google+ and Pinterest bringing up the rear.

(T/ A) Tools are then key to aid engagement. e.g. from the expensive such as Radion6, to the reasonable such as Visible Technologies and Hoot Suite to the cheap (there is no such thing as a free tool as you need someone to use them) such as Google advanced search operators and Google alerts.

(A/ C) Then the tools (including others such as Google Analytics or Site Catalyst) need to Measure activity against your KPI’s. Raw sale numbers often do not tell the full story (unless you are using sophisticated multi click attribution modelling) yet targets of visitor numbers, impressions, retweets, shares, Likes, etc will help. In the activity mop up sessions you need to understand what went well, what could have been gone better and what are we going to change for the next campaign as otherwise what’s the point having a ‘C’.

Note: Whilst the next 3 tips could fall under the SOSTAC section I thought it worthy of separating them out due to importance.

3/ ETHOS / WoW

Your Code of Conduct and WoW (Ways of Working) are key to aid Social Media becoming ingrained in your charity and then to have the team on song (note: this does not mean uttering the same rhetoric like robots).

Your approach will hopefully include beliefs such as ….

  • Influence and engage proactively with those who are involved in your work by offering them  advice, information or sympathy in a timely manner.
  • Be open, honest, responsive, real and hide nothing.
  • Bridge the gap between your supporters and the beneficiaries
  • Make communication truly 2 way.

…. and then these beliefs will be supported by a WoW framework so people understand actually how to convey your ethos(s).

4/ Be inventive

A me too social media strategy will only take you so far and you need to branch out and do something ‘on brand’ (sounds naff yet needs to be said as I’m not advocating something wacky simply for column inches sake) & inventive to engage and make people aware of your cause.

Briefly; here are 3 inventive charity ideas I like:

i/ Irreverent atheists crowd source charitable giving – Essentially a  tactical ‘get to know you’ piece from Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) saw Reddit’s atheists group donating circa $200,000 to DWB

ii/ Random Acts of Kindness – The video below shows the Random Acts of Kindness amazing stories were supported by a simple idea and proposal form.

iii/ Mobile gamification idea – The “Giv Galaxy” iPhone game enabled users to buy virtual products to help feed villagers and provide them with medicine with a portion of the proceeds from those virtual purchases going to help families in need.

The Give Locally “Play for Fun, Give for Good!” game has been downloaded in over 50 countries and gives the player a large amount of control over who the beneficiaries are and also allows you to see what happens to the donation. The result has been $100,000’s in revenue.

5/ Let’s Push things forward

(yes I am quoting the Streets non-hit from 2002)

I will finish on promotion and integration.

i/ Promotion

Push your messaging out into the paid social media world.

Not only will this raise awareness with non/ potential supporters but it most importantly will surface your message to those already engaged/ ‘in market’. Channels include: Twitter ads, YouTube True View Formats, Facebook ads, forthcoming Pinterest pins and Linkedin ads.

ii/ Integration and Acquisition

You will have noted by now that I am clearly flying the flag for Social Media however I should also be flying it for the rest of the Marketing Mix as well. Make sure you Integrate and maximise the halo effect of using the whole marketing mix.

Often Social Media is seen as the new shiny toy and more boring, yet often more effective direct donation, acquisition channels are overlooked. On site optimisation, SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing, Display and Email Marketing can massively aid your Charity coffers and should not be penalised due to their sexy cousin.

And I will leave you with a link to the table highlighted at the top of the page; a list of the top 100 charities for Social Media.  


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