We outline some quick ways small charities can start punching above their weight on Twitter
If you’re a small charity dabbling on Twitter for the first time or only just starting to build your following, it can seem like a daunting arena to break into.
Let’s quickly take a look at the stats:
330 million active monthly users
550 million tweets a day
45% of UK adults online are on Twitter
80% of users are on mobile
That’s a huge opportunity for charities to spread awareness of their cause and raise funds, but it also amounts to a lot of noise to cut through. So how do you get your charity noticed on Twitter?
At just 280 characters per Tweet, charity social media experts Platypus Digital says: “The benefit of short messages on Twitter is that they’re easy to read and can be retweeted easily, making your brand be seen by more people than your followers, for free.”
Once you have a clearly defined goal that sets out what you want to achieve from the platform – whether it’s a boost to donations, more volunteers, more media attention, or all of the above – it’s time to delve into how to tailor your Tweets towards achieving those goals.
Instead of using guesswork, put some thought into what your followers and audience are actually interested in. Luckily, Twitter provides some handy metrics to help you get an idea of what is and isn’t working with your Tweets – click on the profile picture on the top right and choose Analytics. This will show you your Tweet activity dashboard, where you can view exactly how many times Twitter users have seen, retweeted, liked and replied to each tweet.
Some key metrics to look at are:
Engagement – How often readers engaged with you by retweeting what you posted.
Engagement rate – The number of engagements divided by the number of impressions a Tweet receives. This is important because it gives you a clearer picture of how engaging a specific Tweet is, factoring in how many people it reached. An increase in engagement means you’re doing something right. What can you learn from this about the types of content your audience is inspired to engage with?
It’s also a good idea to look at your ’top tweet’ – the tweet that earned the most impressions for a given a month. Since this successfully reached and engaged your target audience, hold it up as a good example and examine what made it work so you can replicate it in future. Pin it to the top of your page so that it’s the first thing new followers see when they click on your profile.
The average Tweet has a lifespan of just 18 minutes, so make sure you’re reaching people at the right time so your efforts aren’t wasted.
Social scheduling tools are a great way to play around with the frequency and timing of Tweets and find the optimal time to post. There are plenty of social scheduling platforms like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Twutter, Twittimer, Buffer and SocialOomph, many of which are free. They allow you to send out Tweets automatically any time that you want. Experiment and test!
Some of them also have handy features like allowing you to automatically identify and respond to keywords in your niche.
A hashtag is like a keyword in Google. The ability to jump on a hashtag that people are already interested in and searching for is one of the great things about Twitter.
Always keep a lookout for trending hashtags that could be linked to your cause, but make sure they feel relevant and authentic, not forced. You can find these on the ’Trends’ column on Twitter.
Hashtagify is a platform that lets you search for hashtags that could be relevant to your cause, understand which are popular, see trends and identify influencers with large followings who might help you spread the word.
If you want to target a local audience, Trendsmap lets you see what’s being talked about in a specific geography.
Tweets with video or animated GIFS get 10x more engagement than those without – so get experimenting.
There’s absolutely no excuse to not use images in all your Tweets either – the more authentic and real the better, but if you happen to not have access to real photography of your people or your cause, here are some ways to source images.
Ultimately, with all the Twitter tricks and tips in the world, there’s no replacement for just sharing and creating great content, and putting the graft in. Be a great Twitter citizen and a contributor and you’ll be rewarded.
Give and you’ll receive: Educate your audience, inform them, entertain them, tell a story, ask questions, give them things to interact with and get involved with, make them a part of your cause.
Be active: Monitor and respond to all mentions and replies, be consistently active. Tag relevant people in your posts, ask for retweets, join in conversations and start your own. Show thanks and appreciation when someone does interact with you and show thanks to your valued supporters and followers.
Be real: Charities are lucky to be able to interact with their audiences in a way that that might seem forced or inauthentic coming from a commercial brand. Show your personality and your people and put real faces to what you do.
Even if you don’t have the most exciting or emotive cause in the world, you still have staff and volunteers and beneficiaries who care – here is the chance to share their stories, give them a platform, to give your audience a glimpse of behind the scenes, of your organisation’s culture, of how you’re meeting challenges and what your work means to you.