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A new report has found that more than 80% of charities now use social media for marketing and engaging with supporters.

Facebook (87%) and Twitter (84%) predictably proved to be the social networks most commonly used by charities, followed by LinkedIn (49%).

The report from Blackbaud found that charitable organisations are also taking action to improve the impact of their social media efforts, with 63% adding staff roles or new responsibilities that focus on social.

A further 40% have implemented new metrics to measure social marketing in the past 12 months, while a quarter of respondents (27%) said they had increased their social budget and 22% planned to do so in the next year.

But despite the increased focus on social marketing, almost half of the organisations surveyed scored themselves as lower than six out of 10 when asked about the effectiveness of their social strategies. 

The report, which surveyed 600 not-for-profit professionals, found that only 8% of respondents gave themselves a score of nine or higher.

With this in mind, I took a look at five charities that have excellent Twitter feeds. And for more on this topic, check out our posts looking at seven tips for charities using Twitter and how 10 charities use Pinterest.

Amnesty UK

Human rights charity Amnesty UK maintains a very active feed, tweeting links to campaign information, press releases, news stories and images from its events.

This ensures a decent mix of content in its feed, rather than simply pushing out press releases all the time. 

The social team also do a decent job of responding to mentions from other users, including supportive comments, queries about campaigns and customer service complaints. 

It ensures that followers feel engaged with Amnesty’s Twitter feed and helps the charity to connect with its supporters.

RSPB

One of my favourites things about the RSPB’s feed is the handle itself - @Natures_Voice – but the charity also tweets a decent array of content to entertain its 80,000 followers.

This includes frequent retweets of its supporters, competitions and the RSPB Daily, which is a collection of relevant news stories from around the web.

As with Amnesty, the RSPB does a good job of interacting with its followers. This includes providing relevant contact details for conservation queries, giving information about its campaigns, or just indulging a shared passion for birds.

Macmillan Cancer

Macmillan Cancer has its social team sign in every morning and clock off in the evening so that followers know who is operating the feed and when they’re available.

This is a nice touch as it ensures people who rely on Macmillan’s services aren’t left hanging on for a reply when the Twitter feed is inactive.

The cancer support charity tweets supportive comments, links to relevant news coverage and details of its campaigns, but its feed is primarily used as a way of communicating with followers and offering support to those in need.

Macmillan uses Twitter as an extension of its offline support service and it’s great to see a charity integrating social into its broader activities rather than just using it for marketing and fundraising.

Dogs Trust

A majority of the Dogs Trust’s feed consists of retweets of supporters and other organisations that are hosting fundraising or microchipping events.

This helps to maintain an active feed but means that the charity risks diluting its own personality and messages with third-party tweets.

However the Dogs Trust also does an excellent job of interacting with its followers which may help account for its whopping 104,000 follower count.

As with the other charities on this list, the Trust responds to a huge variety of @mentions including queries about dog welfare and microchipping, praise for its charitable efforts, and general chitchat about dogs.

The British Red Cross

The Red Cross’ feed is an interesting mix of news stories, campaign information and retweets of other users, alongside frequent interactions with its followers.

Obviously it benefits from being a very high profile charity, but it doesn’t rest on its laurels.

It would potentially benefit from sharing a few more images as the feed is a bit text-heavy at the moment, however the variety and frequency of content is enough to keep its 81,000 followers engaged.

David Moth

Published 6 November, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1682 more posts from this author

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webmoghuls

its a great post. very informative.. these stats are really helpfull

almost 3 years ago

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Victoria Clare

Given how many smaller charities are using Twitter, I'm a little disappointed that all five of these are huge high-profile charities. It would have been nice to see how at least one smaller name used the medium, and I'm sure there are more people out there running smaller-charity twitter feeds who would find that info useful.

'The charity risks diluting its own personality and messages with third-party tweets.' - surely this is how twitter works? If you are that precious about 'your own personality and messages' that you can never RT things that fit with your mission that supporters and people working on the same project have asked you to RT, then I think that says something about the 'personality' being conveyed. It makes the organisation look stuffy and self-centred.

almost 3 years ago

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Angela

It's good to see these stats and ways in which these large charities are using Twitter - it's something to learn from and aspire to. But I also agree with you Victoria - it would be great to see how some smaller charities are using Twitter well.

We have just over 5K followers and try to do all of the above: RT other orgs & people, responding to @mentions & supporters and tweet a range of tweets, not just marketing (we try to make it as much about the cause as it is about the charity) but it's hard to have lots of @replies to people if you're not getting as many @mentions as the larger organisations do. We actively seek out other supporters not using our Twitter handle such as finding people tweeting about CRM products we benefit from and @reply to them and/or RT them. We'd love to do more but it would take more time and money unfortunately!

almost 3 years ago

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Lauren

I agree with Victoria, I would have preferred to have seen how smaller charities without the big budgets use the channel but it is interesting all the same.

almost 3 years ago

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Adrian Brown

Good article - social media is a unique blend of customer service (and insight), marketing and PR, and maybe most importantly a way for your supporters, volunteers, and staff to connect with each other and become brand advocates. Once you devolve your social strategy and loosen the reins you'll be amazed what an asset your fans are on social media.

Check out this initiative from NSPCC this month http://storify.com/nspcc/nspcctoday

almost 3 years ago

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Angie

The Children's Trust is so proud to have 73,000 followers. We are the UK's leading charity for children with brain injury. Twitter is a great way for us to reach new audiences around the world. Not just people that might financially support us but the brain injury community and helps us share best practice.

We have had so many magic moments as a result of Twitter. Last weekend,3 of our teenagers went to see #XFactor and met the judges. Tonight 45 people have retweeted our Brain Injury Hub Website and as a result one more young person with a brain injury might just have been helped. This is just two examples. We have hundreds.

We are proud to tweet 24/7 and 7 days a week. We love # , trending and of course #CharityTuesday. We have a small team of tweeters all of whom are passionate about our charity and we hope that shows in our tweets. Http://www.twitter.com/childrens_trust

Angie - or as a young boy who was helped by The Children's Trust calls me - The Queen of Twitter

almost 3 years ago

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Jo Birch-Phaure

Hi there guys,

I see you have chosen some pretty major sized charities. I would love to see this for the less well known types. Maybe an article about which small/medium sized charities are using social media to punch above their weight? I won't lie I am hoping you will see our twitter feed and want to include us! Would be great to hear what you think of what we are doing!

almost 3 years ago

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Melanie Stanley, Head of Customer Engagement at OgilvyOne

Interesting read around the time there are other pieces suggesting that as a fundraising exercise social is a waste of money.
The insight is that much the same as taking old clothes to charity shops, by liking a charity on FB or following a charity on Twitter individuals feel they have done their bit, they are a good citizen...no need therefore to give money as well, because 'I show my support in other ways'. Such individuals have been termed 'slacktivists'

As any good marketer will tell you, the roles of different media and platforms are wide and varied and this is not to say Social doesn't have a role to play in building awareness and favourability for Charities but in these recessionary times is there any proof it delivers a solid ROI where it matters most..in the collection tin?

almost 3 years ago

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