Top tips for social media

This month I was delighted to be invited to present two social media workshops. The first was at Trading Aces which was organised by Andy Brady,  head of learning and research for charities & social enterprises at Anglia Ruskin University. The second was at the Small charities communications conference in London, organised by CharityComms.

The workshops were fun, although challenging! When you only have an hour, it’s tempting to try to cram in as much as you can but I focused mainly on Facebook and Twitter and tried to give practical and actionable tips for a range of expertise levels. As an accredited trainer, I would usually spend half a day to a full day focusing on social media (and even more if I could) so having just an hour was interesting! I had some really great feedback straight after the workshops and a few emails too so I’m delighted they had a good response.

As part of the workshops I put together a Ten Top Tips for Social Media handout, which delegates could take away with them to stick up at their desk. Download your free copy by clicking on the image. I hope you find it useful!


10 Top Tips for social media

Charities get in on the April Fools’ spirit

Here are some really impressive April Fools’ day jokes from charities that I Storified for JustGiving. If you’ve spotted any others, please let me know. Enjoy!

Squared Online- a digital journey

Last night was my first Squared Online course. Squared Online is Google’s Digital Marketing course and I will be embarking on this virtual learning journey over the next six months.

These are my thoughts so far:

1. The classes are all conducted online, every Thursday night from 7 – 8pm. This is a challenge for me as I much prefer face-to-face. I found (when it was enabled), the reams of messages from fellow Squares rather distracting. Looking at them too much made me feel slightly sea sick. On the plus side, I was in my pajamas and sipping a cider – not something you can do in a face-to-face class…(at least I don’t think you can).

2. From module 2 (or maybe it’s 3…I forget) we will be put into groups ranging from 5 to 8 people and assessed as a group. Again, this is challenging for me. I’m not a perfectionist but I feel slightly uneasy about having to rely on people I don’t know to pull their weight and make as much out of the course as I plan to do.

3. I need to get over the unease of virtual classes and group work and just get on with it.

Things I’m looking forward to are:

1. Making the most of this opportunity and learning as much as I possibly can, then putting it into practice.

2. Meeting new people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures, with different levels of experience and hopefully having lots of interesting discussions (note: discussions, not arguments).

3. Challenging myself.

4. Sharing what I’ve learnt.

I’ll be posting about my journey along the way so check back for regular updates.

Oh, and if you’re also taking part: I’m in the green group. If you are too and you’re on Twitter, let me know and I’ll add you to my list.

How will you use Facebook hashtags?

This week Facebook rolled out clickable hashtags – the ability to search conversations on Facebook and become part of a wider public discussion. Much like Twitter.

At the moment the service is not available to everyone and, like all of Facebook’s features, people will have the ability to set the privacy of their hashtags to Friends, Friends of Friends, Public and Custom.

So what does it mean for charities? 

As this is a new feature for Facebook, many charities are choosing to see how others will use it before jumping in themselves. Here is an example of how the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) are using hashtags for their Syria campaign:


Although it is early days for Facebook, hashtags are nothing new. However, I think Facebook hashtags will be highly useful for:

Integrating campaigns – a hashtag is part and parcel of the marketing mix in any campaign. Now, instead of being used just for Twitter and Instagram, you’ll be able to monitor, track and engage with people using that hashtag on Facebook. Facebook adverts for your campaign could include the hashtag, helping to spread your campaign further.

Social TV- think about Paul O’Grady’s For the love of dogs (#pogdogs) for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home on ITV. How many people tweet while they watch the show? Thousands!
According to Thinkbox in a 2012 report, 31% of people have chatted about TV shows or adverts in a second screen but this rose to 56% for 16 to 24 year olds. Now, those people who are not on Twitter will be able to take part in social TV conversations on Facebook. Of course this brings up resource issues (headaches) for charities already struggling with monitoring conversations on Twitter alone.

Targeting – using hashtags will enable you to better target your audience and make it easier for your audience to discover you and your services.

Trending – we all know how Facebook loves to change their Edgerank algorithm (how Facebook calculates where and what posts will show up on your news feed) and just when you think you have it sussed, they change it again…
I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before you will be able to pay for hashtags to trend, much in the way you can pay to promote tweets on Twitter. This will help ensure that your content will show up on your target audience’s news feed.

Have you tested Facebook hashtags yet?

Vine – You’ve only got six seconds so make it count

No doubt by now you will be familiar with the latest social media platform on the block, Vine.

Vine is an App that lets you film a six second video from your phone or tablet that then plays on a continuous loop. No video editing skills are required, which makes it an attractive option particularly for small charities that may not have a budget for videos. The App is also free so all that’s required is a bit of time, imagination and creativity.

As Vine is owned by Twitter, expect some investment in the near future. Currently it is not available yet on Android but that should change fairly quickly. At the moment it is still quite a basic App in terms of its capabilities but some charities have been using it in really powerful and clever ways.

You can see lots of examples of charities using Vine in my Storify, I heard it through the (grape) vine. 


So what makes a good Vine?

From the many examples I have seen so far, a good vine is one that:

Has a beginning, middle and end

A video should tell a story and stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Think about the case studies you have on your website and see if you can turn any of those into a Vine. Can you capture their journey in just six seconds?

Has a clear message

It’s the elevator pitch concept. Think first about what your message is then work out how you can convey that message in just six seconds. Keep it simple with one message at a time.

Has a call to action

After watching your Vine, what do you want people to do? Perhaps it’s making a text donation, signing up for a fundraising challenge or just visiting your website. Whatever it is be sure it is clearly shown at the end of the Vine. Although the video plays on a continuous loop, viewers shouldn’t have to watch it three times just to read the call to action.

Is visually appealing

Vine has the ability to record sound but most charity Vines I’ve seen so far are soundless. Often a song or a voiceover will pull on our emotions but images can, of course, do this too. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when you only have six seconds, a powerful image needs to work as hard as it can. If you are using images as stills, ensure they are high-resolution and in focus.

Offers personalisation

Some charities are already using Vine to thank their donors, campaigners and fundraisers by using their names or Twitter handles with a thank you message. It is a wonderful, inexpensive way of making supporters feel special and appreciated.

Lets  your personality shine

Social media has already enabled us to give a personality to our charities by letting us engage directly with the people we support and the people and organisations that support us. So why not let Vine do the same? Show your supporters the people behind the charity with ‘Meet the Team’, ‘A day in the life of…’  or ‘Funny things that happen in the office’ Vines. After all, people invest in people so let your staff shine!