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

Top charity use of trending news stories

Now, newsjacking has been around for ages and charities have been taking advantage of trending hashtags, or news, in both good and bad ways – mostly good.

Recently, I’ve noticed one charity that seems to have nailed it.

They have clearly thought their key messages through and they are reaping the benefits – their latest one, which focussed on the news story that skinny jeans could be bad for your health (oh dear, Hipsters) had 74 Retweets.

So who is it?

Here’s one for National Kissing Day.

But best of all? These ones for Game of Thrones.

I think these are wonderful examples of how to take advantage of trending hashtags, in a meaningful way. Have you spotted any others?

Ode to a Fundraiser

The Institute of Fundraising has launched their #ProudFundraiser campaign ahead of their National Convention. They’re encouraging people to tweet, using the hashtag, why they’re proud to be fundraisers. Seems very simple and why wouldn’t you be proud to be a fundraiser? After all, we help people right? We raise money for good causes. We provide emergency help and support. We fund research into curing diseases. We help terminally ill people fulfil a last wish. We offer support to the bereaved. But hang on… not everyone thinks we do great work. Following some charity scandals, donations are falling.

#FRTweets is a weekly chat on Twitter for fundraisers and charity people, run by Lucy Caldicott and Lesley Pinder. The last topic was on controversy surrounding charities and also whether fundraisers are proud to be fundraisers in this current climate. You can read the Storify here.

Ian MacQuillin summed it up best, for me, when he tweeted:


Today, two things central to this theme caught my eye. One (via Matt Collins) that, sadly, has shone a bad light on charities. I’ve deliberately not shown the charity’s name because this is not about naming and shaming but I think it’s safe to say that this tweet from a charity account is simply unacceptable. With such an uncharitable tweet from a charity, surely this is a further blow to how people will view the sector?


This incident made me think of this wonderful poem by Kid President. It’s called ‘A Tiny Poem to the World’ but I think it could easily be called ‘Ode to a Fundraiser’. It sums up perfectly, for me, the way the sector is viewed and how we all need to ‘keep going, keep going, keep going’. We need to remind each other that there are good days and bad days but as long as we are doing our very best for those who need us and our charity, we are making a change and we should be proud.



What do charities and a Tube Strike have in common?

Tube staff are striking over plans to close down a number of ticket offices, leading to job losses of almost 1,000. So what does this have to do with charities?

Technically, nothing. Tube line info maps on the other hand…

A very clever and serious tweet from Save the Children, highlighting the crisis in Syria:

Save the children

And this one from Macmillan to highlight that their helpline is open, even if tube lines are closed:


Leonard Cheshire Disability highlights the inaccessability of tube stations for wheelchair users and brings home the message that for them, it’s like everyday is a tube strike day:

Leonard Cheshire

Have you spotted any others?


Being Mindful in a Digital World

I attended my second BarcampNFP on 20 March on a Volunteer Blogger ticket. For those of you who don’t know, BarcampNFP brings together people from the charity sector with people from Digital and Tech in sectors such as IT, Government, Arts and Culture for one day in an ‘unconference’ format. The idea is that we all collaborate and learn from each other through informal presentations and hands-on workshops.

As I had a blogger ticket I live tweeted all my sessions and Storified the day, which you can read here. There were some really excellent sessions and my favourites included ‘The future of charities’, which was facilitated by Anne McCrossan and Matt Collins, ‘The use of digital in storytelling’ by Jude Habib and ‘How bloggers can say the things we can’t’ by Diabetes UK’s Amy Burton.

The session that resonated with me the most was ‘How to avoid burnout’. It was a really cathartic session where, it seems, in this digital age most of us find it near impossible to switch off. The 9 to 5 job just doesn’t exist in social media and digital and we had a good discussion about how we are our own worst enemies – checking our organisational social media accounts after hours and over weekends. Some top tips to avoid burnout, that we discussed, were to stop checking emails and social media just before going to bed, to go for a walk (particularly if you don’t take a full lunch break) to clear your head, rest your eyes and get some fresh air and to take up a non-digital hobby (think sewing lessons, knitting club, learning a language, art classes etc).

As a result of this session, I vowed to take a step back from my personal Twitter account and removed my account from my iPhone that night. You know that statistic that people check their phone on average 110 times a day? Well, that was me. Heard the new buzzword FOMO (fear of missing out)? Well, that was me too. I love working in social media and helping my clients with their strategy and implementation but I have finally realised that I don’t personally need to always be tweeting every minute of the day to connect, to engage, to share and to learn.

Since I have removed my personal Twitter from my iPhone, I have been more mindful. I have been able to dedicate more time to non-digital hobbies as well as to volunteer more time to causes I really care about. I go for walks during my lunch break and I am amazed by the things I notice when I’m not tweeting, checking emails or Instagramming. And I feel so much better for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as tips, on avoiding burnout so please comment below.

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