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How to use Twitter for charities and causes

Disability awareness campaign A2BForAll

Using twitter for good

You could be forgiven for thinking that Twitter is a social media-networking tool just used by celebrities to portray every aspect of their lives to their fans. Or as a tool that people exploit to make money. But, used correctly, twitter can be a force for good. In fact, tor charities, the compelling combination of celebrity presence, fund raising and brand awareness makes twitter a must have tool in the marketing mix.

Over the last year we have used twitter to run a national campaign for a great cause. And we thought we’d share our experiences to help other charitable causes make best use of twitter.

Our focus for the past twelve months has been on running a campaign (@A2BForAll), which is fighting for an accessible public transport system for disabled passengers.  Starting literally from scratch, with no previous brand awareness, no supporters and very little funding, we are now a nationally recognised campaign, with nearly 600 twitter followers, including Paralympian Tanni Grey Thompson, TV stars Kelly Marie Stewart (Hollyoaks) and Cherylee Houston (Coronation Street), and leading disability organisations, such as Mencap and Whizzkids.  From our social media activity we’ve also had national media coverage on the BBC, ITV and we co-launched the NoGoBritain campaign on Channel 4 news.

So how did we turn a blank online page into a national supported charity and campaign with followers from all over the world?

  • We started by being interesting. Our tweets were about topics which were relevant to the campaign and covered issues surrounding public transport for disabled people. We tweeted regularly and slowly started building a page full of posts that were linked to us and what we do e.g. news pieces, blogs, or similar campaigns which we also showed support for.
  • Next we branded our Twitter page. It’s quite simple to do.  We used a template from google, added a few design skills and within an hour we had a tailormade twitter page that put a clear and precise overview of what we were looking to do
  • Then and only then did we start following other tweeters, and make connections with others. More on this below.

Tweeting to an empty audience is not going to get a charity very far, but it is an essential part of having a successful twitter campaign.  You need to demonstrate who you are and what you are about if you are going to get people following you.  It also shows that you have ‘stamina’ i.e. you’re not just posting a few tweets then getting bored.  You are actively using twitter.

Once you have established that you are committed to twitter and you have demonstrated you know what you are talking about then it is time to start making connections. To do this you need to take a targeted approach when searching for groups and individuals to follow to maximise your charity or campaign’s full potential. By searching on keywords such as “accessible transport” and “disabled transport access” we were able to find individuals and groups on twitter who were already tweeting about transport access problems. We followed these and made contact to introduce the campaign but also involved ourselves in discussions to put our personal views across. Many followers then introduced us to friends, and slowly but surely our number of followers and contacts have risen day by day.

It is important that anyone who follows you, if they are relevant or useful, follow them back. Then you can send direct messages and start private and personal conversations between each other.

As you are gaining followers, it is important to keep being interesting. Only now the definition of ‘interesting’ needs to be subtly renewed.  Now you have followers you can see what is of interest to them, and attune your tweets to maximise response.  This isn’t about changing your focus, it’s about directing what you are saying to get the most discussion and comments.  That way more people will be drawn into the subject and your followers will rise.

Posting new tweets and informing followers of exciting news for your campaign keeps them up to date with your movements, this can often lead to others replying to your posts, involving themselves in your discussions and retweeting your comments. A fantastic way to use twitter to gain reach for your campaign

Other examples:

We are just one example of how Twitter has helped contact vital people in order to publicise our campaign. Here are some other examples of how charities have used twitter to good effect.

The Papworth Trust (@Papworth_Trust) updates their page every few hours, interacting with the people and clients who use their services. Papworth’s 1,997 followers (as of 31 October) on their page did not happen overnight. Each post they made brought new followers and new contacts for the trust. They followed the same steps as us. They started with tweets about the Trust, what they are about, then included their logo and branded up the page to follow suit with their logo colours and eventually started connecting with various groups and individuals who were interested in them. The key to their success was constantly updating their page and posting or involving themselves in discussions but also building up a page with the right contacts, content and look.

A specific sponsor page run on twitter is @for_luca.  This page is aimed at raising money for a little boy who needs prosthetic legs after losing both to Meningococcal septicaemia. His twitter page has attracted well over 5000 followers and their timeline is always a message of thanks for the hundreds circulating the link to their “Just giving” page to donate to Luca. They started out by doing a sketch of Luca with the words For Luca written on his hand. This was to be their logo design and name of their campaign. Over time it has gained thousands of responses and soon many were tweeting and uploading pictures of their hands with “For_Luca” written across it. This has attracted the support of many celebrities such as F1 Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Vettel, rockstar Gene Simmons and many others. A great example of how bringing Celebrities and charities together on twitter works so well.

If you are wondering what types of things you could possibly tweet about, the list is endless. Papworth for example, offer advice and news on their services. But some tweets are simply random questions such as “Did anyone watch this documentary last night (Link)” This enables followers to involve themselves in a topic they are familiar with but also make contact with the trust. You can also tweet with links to donation pages such as justgiving.com. This has helped thousands of causes gain their maximum support and raise as much money as possible.

If you’d like to talk to us about using twitter in more detail then we’d be happy to discuss with you.  We are a marketing agency but are providing this information free of charge to anyone in the charitable sector who would like to discuss how they can use social media to boost the awareness and raise funds.

Contact us via chicho.co.uk or call us on 01924 370932.


About chichomarketing

Straight talking marketing from a team what works too hard but has lots of fun along the way! Websites, marketing strategy, social media, motion graphics and corporate animations for Small Businesses and Start Ups.


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