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.
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.
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) November 2, 2013
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.
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 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.
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.