Five top tips for building online communities

Today I delivered training for Media Trust on Building Online Communities to a number of charities. The training was really interactive and it was wonderful to have delegates that were enthusiastic, confident and happy to share their own experiences and tips.

We covered a lot of topics but I wanted to share five top tips for helping to build and engage a community. They are:

1. Experiment with posting times

Have you looked at your Facebook Insights to see when the people who Like your page are most active? You might be surprised… if your target audience are parents, for example, then experiment with posting at 8 or 9pm. This is when the kids have gone to bed and parents finally have a chance to sit down and check Facebook.

2. Think ‘mobile’ first

As of March 31, 2015 there were 1.25 billion mobile monthly active Facebook users. So when you’re creating your post, make sure the first two sentences have your call to action or conveys what you want people to take away. Chances are if your post is too long for mobile, most people won’t click to read more.

3. Keep the conversation on your cause

If you are going to make use of trending news stories or trending hashtags, make sure they are still relevant to your cause. If you can’t think of a way to tie in your charity’s work/values/mission to a trending hashtag – don’t do it. Here are some good examples (and one bad) of ‘newsjacking’.

4. Keep it real

Real people, real stories and authentic images. People love human interest stories and hearing about other people’s experiences so why not showcase them? Avoid stock images and use real people – photos of smiling, happy faces get the most engagement. Try it!

5. Always say ‘thank you’

This could be literally – as in thanking fundraisers on your social media channels or thanking volunteers but it is also about thanking those who engage with you. And that could mean something as simple as liking their comment on your post or replying to it. With Twitter this could be Retweeting, favouriting or replying with an @mention. If someone has taken the time to engage then they should be acknowledged. This means they are also more likely to comment, Like or share your content again.

Got any other tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment or tweet me at @LondonKirsty

My 2014 highlights


It’s that time of year when we look back over the last twelve months and celebrate our highlights. For me, it’s important to acknowledge the successes during the year and to set goals for the year to come. These have been my professional highlights this year (in no particular order):

I became an accredited trainer and have delivered training on behalf of Media Trust throughout the year.

Rob Dyson asked me to become an admin of The Third Sector PR and Communications Network – a hugely helpful network for advice, discussions or sharing resources. If you’re not a member yet, what are you waiting for?

I was an official blogger for the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention – three days of great presentations and the opportunity to catch up with fellow charity folk.

I landed my current role doing a job I love for a company I’ve long admired.

My blog post on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign was CharityComms most read article of 2014. Thanks to Anastasia Emmanuel from Indiegogo for her top tips!

I became a regular contributor for the Guardian Voluntary Sector and I was quoted in the actual Guardian. (My husband joked we should frame the article. I haven’t gone that far yet…)

Presenting with my colleague Deborah at Media Trust’s Art of Engagement conference has definitely been a highlight, particularly as I don’t like public speaking!

And talking about public speaking… I also presented recently at the IoF’s Regional Special Interest Group for Community Fundraising and it was great as there was a lot of discussion and debate. I was followed by Teri Doubtfire who delivered a fantastic presentation – I’ve definitely taken some tips on presenting from her!

I’ve been a Trustee at the Small Charities Coalition for just over a year now and I’m really excited at the direction the charity is moving in.

Enrolling on Google’s Squared Online course – I’m only just over half way through. It’s been challenging but I do love a challenge…

So, what am I looking forward to in 2015?

Hopefully to pass Squared Online!

To help my team at work to reach our targets.

To retain my CharityComms ‘most popular post’ title (ideas for a popular blog post topic will be gratefully received…)

But generally… to work hard, to step out of my comfort zone, to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’, to do the things that scare me and to just be happy.

What have been your highlights this year?