Brands, take note! This is how you do Social

Man tweets brand, brand replies. Nothing unusual there right? Wrong. This is one of the best Twitter exchanges I’ve ever seen (read the whole exchange here) and well done David for showing that brands can have a sense of humour!


What can brands learn for this?

  • don’t be afraid to let your social media person/people show their personalities
  • broadcasting messages is boring… have conversations instead (even silly ones)
  • take advantage of these kinds of spontaneous situations. Had a funny/odd tweet? Don’t ignore it… be creative! Like David….
  • take a risk (but be sensible) – waiting for sign-off on tweets will kill the exchange dead. Sometimes you’ve just got to (salmon*) roll with it


Are you social media obsessed? Then volunteer for a charity!


I spotted this in the February edition of Glamour magazine and it gave me the rage. Ok, maybe not ‘the rage’ but I was jolly well annoyed.

There are so many things wrong with this… I made a list

  1. Just because you are social-media (and why does it have a hyphen?) obsessed does NOT mean you know how to do it well
  2. Social media for a charity/brand is a full time job. Any person doing this professionally will attest to this. And by full time I mean way beyond the 9 – 5, Monday – Friday. Could a volunteer realistically commit to this?
  3. Volunteering for a charity, local or otherwise, should not just be a means to boost your CV
  4. Last time I checked, volunteering was *mainly about a passion for that cause and wanting to do something good for man or animal-kind. (* I am not naive, of course it also helps your CV – you learn new skills and employers like it)
  5. Social media is about knowing your charity/brand and your audience inside out and how to position your messaging. It’s also about conversations, not just ‘spreading a message’
  6. Also, it’s a professional job. Not one where you get to sit at home in your PJs with one eye on the telly … (unless it’s at night of course during a relevant show and you’re live tweeting. Then PJs are allowed)
  7. Lastly…. and this is quite an important point – charities don’t have the time to invest in a volunteer who isn’t invested in the charity. Please don’t take Glamour’s advice and apply to a local charity because you think it will boost your CV and they’ll be grateful to have you.

On a more positive note…. if you really are interested in volunteering then find a charity and a role that’s right for you. Check out the opportunities section on the website of a charity you have an affinity for or take a look at these organisations :

The year that was

As we delve head-first into 2014, let’s take time to reflect on the year that was.

For me, both personally and professionally, it was a great year – I got married and I took the plunge and went freelance. I really can’t wait to see what 2014 holds… it’s only the first week of January and already it’s full of promise.

Here’s a great video on Social Media in 2013 (Hat tip to Paul de Gregorio) Can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for Social…

Some new and nifty social media features

I don’t know about you but I’ve spotted new features on a number of platforms recently. Have you? If not, never fear… here they are:

1. Pinterest Place boards – now you can pin places (buildings, restaurants, landmarks etc) on to a map board. It’s really easy to use and looks great. Here’s an example.

2. Instagram DMs –  you can now send a photo or video directly (and privately) to a friend on Instagram. Could this be a nifty way to build donor relations? Imagine getting a personalised Christmas card or fundraising ‘thank you’ from a charity you support?

3. Facebook donate button – you can donate to charities on Facebook now (US only for the moment but expect to see it here mid 2014). This could have huge implications for charities but of course a Facebook Ads grant would have been much better… Read this article for more info on the matter. And you can sign a petition here to encourage Facebook to set up a non-profit Ads grant, much like Google’s Adword grants.


4. Google + custom URLs – now you can change your Google + page URL, which surely beats those random numbers right? You will need to meet three criteria to be eligible: You have to have a profile photo, at least 10 followers and an account which is over a month old. Google is rolling this out in stages but you will be informed when you are eligible to change your URL. Be warned… once you set your custom URL, you can’t change it (like Facebook Page names – and we all know how painful that is if you rebrand).

5. Twitter mobile gets a facelift – The Twitter mobile App has a new look. And it is sleek. ‘Connect’ is now called ‘notifications’ and ‘home’ is now called ‘timelines’. If you have different Twitter accounts you can now move more easily between the two timelines.

Have you spotted any others? Share them in the comments field.

My 300 Seconds Presentation on How to Build a Successful Personal Brand

Image I was delighted to present at the latest 300 Seconds event, which took place on Wednesday 11 September at The Guardian, on the topic of How to Build a Successful Personal Brand.

If you are not familiar with the concept of 300 Seconds, they are a series of talks by and for the digital community. They are about ‘hearing from the brilliance of the many, not the few’ and you can read more about the concept here.

I was the first speaker up and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous but the audience were warm and there were some friendly faces in the sea of people who gave me lots of encouragement. I won’t go into too much detail about my presentation but here are the main points:

  • We all have a digital footprint. Whether you like it or not.
  • Many of you are already building your personal brand, you just don’t realise it yet.
  • Building a personal brand is not always easy. It takes time, effort and dedication and you may have to do things that take you out of your comfort zone (like public speaking).

So what is a Personal Brand? It’s essentially a way of marketing yourself and what you represent. But what do you represent? You need to find your sound bite. Can you describe yourself in a word or two? For example, Nigella Lawson is known as a Domestic Goddess, Kate Moss is a Catwalk Queen.

Once you have figured out your sound bite you need to decide which area you want to be know in. Is it the sector you currently work in or a sector you want to move into? Do you have a particular specialism you want to be known for such as PR, Digital, Tech?

Now that you have this figured out, like all brands you need to build your network and earn your reputation. So how can you do this?

  • Follow relevant people in your social media circles
  • Join in conversations and add value
  • Attend events and network
  • Find guest blogging opportunities in your sector or specialism
  • Put yourself forward to speak at events

As I mentioned, building a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight but it is well worth the effort. Just remember that once you have built a successful brand you need to maintain it. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste once you land your dream job or work gets too busy. You need to find ways to integrate your online presence into your everyday life.

What I’m looking forward to at the Institute of Fundraising’s Digital Fundraising Conference

The Institute of Fundraising’s Digital Fundraising Conference takes place this coming Monday, the 9th September.

I am really excited to be their Conference Ambassador at the event and will be live tweeting throughout the day using the event hashtag #IoFDigital. So if you are unable to attend the event, you can still follow all the presentations with the hashtag and by following @IoFTweets and @LondonKirsty (that’s me).

Here is the programme for the day and, as you can see, it is jam-packed with great speakers and interesting topics. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Laila Takeh, Head of Digital Engagement at UNICEF, talk on Digital Transformation. I’ve heard Laila present a number of times before and she always leaves you with lots to think about.

Another session that has caught my interest is the Google and Grow your charity online Workshop with Richard Craig from Charity Technology Trust and Maryam Mossavar, Industry Manager for Nonprofit at Google. I’m hoping to pick up lots of tips to help small charities, in particular, through my freelance work.

Lastly, the Marketing Automation – Building the Strategy presentation with four speakers, including Robert Elliot from Save the Children, should be really good.

Not only will I be live tweeting but you can also count on there being a Storify the next day. Don’t forget to join in with the event using #IoFDigital

Feel the Fear and do it anyway

Feel the fear

For a while now I’ve been sitting back admiring (and feeling a bit jealous at times) of my peers Matt Collins, Bertie Bosredon, Sam Phillips, Ben Matthews and Zoe Amar. I’ve been admiring the exciting projects they’ve been able to work on with a range of charities and clients and been a bit jealous of their ability to ‘be their own boss’.

So I’m taking the plunge. I’m going freelance*.

I’m not going to lie….part of me finds the thought of the unpredictability of it all absolutely terrifying. But at the same time it’s really, really, REALLY exciting (and oddly liberating) and I can’t wait to get started.

Over the last month or so I have been meeting with accountants, setting up meetings with peers to get some advice, securing some work and getting a website in order (watch this space).

So I’m finishing my full time job next week and then I’m off on a little holiday before starting a part-time Social Media Consultancy role at a PR agency in the first week of September. I’ve also got a training course set up with another agency and I’m really excited about what we will be offering (more of that later).

While I get my website in order feel free to contact me via email, kirstymarrins(at)gmail(dot)com, or via Twitter or LinkedIn.

I look forward to hopefully working with you some day soon!

*Ok, so technically I’ll be freelance three days a week.

Social media is not a numbers game

Last night Channel 4 Dispatches reported on the fake fans industry. In Bangladesh there are ‘click farms’ where workers are paid to constantly log in and out of fake accounts to like or follow a Brand’s page or account. According to one company, pay only $3 for 1,000 YouTube views. 1,000 likes on your Facebook page? No problem, that’ll be $15 Sir.

This made me a bit ranty.

You can read mine, and other’s #fakefans tweets in my Storify.

We need to get past social media being a numbers game. It’s about conversation and engagement. It’s about getting to know your audience – your stakeholders/customers/donors/supporters and being able to have a two way meaningful dialogue with them.

Having thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of fans is all well and good. If it’s authentic. So yes we can all buy our followers and likes if we want to play the numbers game. But can you buy engagement? Can you buy this:



Or this:


No. No you can’t. It takes time and effort. And that time and effort is more than worth if when you get this kind of engagement


Newsjacking on Social Media

This week saw the arrival of the Royal baby, or #RoyalBaby if you’re on social media, and with the news came the inevitable newsjacking.

So what is newsjacking? It’s using real time breaking news to add your own angle or agenda in order to generate engagement among your followers, promote a relevant product or services and hopefully gain some new followers at the same time.

So how did charities ‘newsjack’ #RoyalBaby? Here are some examples:

Dogs Trust offered tips and advice for introducing the new baby to Kate and William’s dog:


Macmillan South East promoted their fundraising efforts for Macmillan:


The RNLI  and Breakthrough Breast Cancer went down the ‘congratulations’ route but cleverly tied it in with the Royal’s personal connection to the charities: 

This photo is from the launch of the RNLI lifeboat in Anglesey and was the couple’s first official Royal engagement after announcing the news of their engagement.




The link in the tweet takes you to Breakthrough’s website to a page on why Prince Charles is a patron.Doctors of the World chose to highlight the plight of children and mothers in Africa and brought more of a serious message to the news of the arrival: 



Here are some tips for newsjacking:

1. It’s obvious but timing is everything. Hashtags don’t trend for days on end so you need to act fast

2. Choose your newsjacking topics wisely – it’s not a good idea to newsjack natural disasters or tragic events as Gap learnt…



3. There needs to be a natural connection. Don’t newsjack topics that aren’t somehow aligned to your organisational goals