Social Media offers users an increasingly effective strategy to engage with the digital world and enter a two-way communication stream for a more personalised sense of connection. One thing that has become an apparent way of using the voice of social media to make an impact, is through the use of charities. Over the past year especially, it has become very clear that using social media as a means to connect with supporters is too good of an opportunity for charities to miss.

A survey collated by The Guardian back in 2013 has shown that the number of charitable organisations in the UK has doubled its supporters in the past year on major social platforms. However, although these figures sound very promising, there are still a large number of charitable organisations that find the step onto social platforms a daunting experience and, as such, they aren’t making the most of social media as a fundraising tool.

Because of this, we’ve put together 5 reasons why charities should use social media:

1. Use of the hashtag (#)

One of the outstanding ways in which charities have reached out to a mass market audience through social media platforms, is through the use of a campaign hashtag. I’m sure you’re all no stranger to the #NoMakeupselfie and the #Icebucketchallenge, two strong examples that demonstrate how a tool as simple as the hashtag can be a very powerful approach that charities should fully utilise.

ice bucket challenge

The #NoMakeupselfie, a hashtag created to help raise awareness for cancer, managed to raise £8 million in 6 days for Cancer Research and even included the likes of celebrities such as Holly Willoughby, Cara Delevingne and Cheryl Cole who all got involved to raise awareness. Similarly, the #Icebucketchallenge, which helped ALSA sufferers, brought together an astonishing $115 million in the US and more around the world, including £7 million for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK. This challenge involved supporters throwing a bucket full of ice water over their heads, filming it, then sharing it via social channels to ‘spread the word’. As a consequence of this, the campaign went viral and became a roaring success. This also brought together celebrities from all over the world, once again to help raise awareness and make a difference through just the simple click of a video.

2. Celebrity Influence

Social media channels also offer a great platform for the involvement of celebrities. When it comes to charitable events, the use of influential people can have a big impact on how the public interact with a campaign, even if the celebrity has little or no relevance to the cause.

michelle obama bring back our girls

A great example of this is the use of Michelle Obama, who’s part in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign went viral via social media, which then went onto encourage further celebrities to get involved. When a celebrity backs a campaign, it offers the public a sense of validation. We still look up to celebrities and like to do what they do – this goes for social media as well, when the public see a celebrity support something, they want to get involved and become a part of it too.

3. Anyone can get involved

Another very simple but important factor to think about when using social media channels as a charity, is the ease to which supporters can get involved. Using the two examples mentioned before, the pouring of water over your head or taking a selfie wearing no makeup realistically requires very little effort. Charitable events like running a marathon however, involve a longer process of preparation and may not urge as many people to feel they can get involved.

This holds a key element to why charities are becoming more prone to leveraging social media as a fundraising and awareness tool, since it’s easy for people to jump on the bandwagon. Likewise, the majority of charity campaigns that use social media have an element of fun to it, whilst recognising that charitable events should not be made fun of and are to be taken seriously, a degree of fun helps to create a sense of light heartedness, which again encourages involvement.

4. Call to Action

A good Call to Action (CTA) acts as a key tool to any effective marketing programme, especially when it comes to looking at how fundraising campaigns can become more successful. The use of a simple, yet effective, call to action buttons is no stranger to charities that already implement their own social strategy.

cancer research website

This added tool is a great way of helping to increase engagement with supporters, thus helping to yield a greater number of donations. The process in which supporters can get involved and help with a charity is made simple and clear through these call to action buttons, creating a speeding donation process. Once again this feeling of ‘anyone getting involved’ is enforced, as these CTA’s allow an immediate involvement as soon as a supporter has started to engage and interact with a charitable cause or campaign.

5. Paid Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising campaigns have proven time and time again to be a great way to advertise a whole range of products and services. But what about for charities?

Here we have three great platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that all offer an advertising tool with a range of positives that charities can benefit from. For example, paid social media advertising allows you to choose the objective of your campaign to maximise the potential of your ad. Therefore, when using Facebook advertising for example, if the charity is organising a fundraiser, they could choose the campaign objective “Raise attendance at your event”. Also, another great feature of the Social Media Advertising tool is the audience targeting. This allows you to alter your audience down to minute details, so for example, an animal charity could target people with an interest in animals etc.

A similar and just as effective feature of social media ads is the visual aspect itself. Through the creation of a strong visual ad, charities are able to entice people through vibrant images and powerful call to action buttons. When looking at the three social channels mentioned above individually, Facebook is a stronger channel to implement when appealing to consumers and the public to donate to a cause. With Twitter, however, a charity is able to use the likes of celebrity seeding and online influencers, to help push a campaign and spread awareness to their large following. Lastly, with LinkedIn, charities are offered a great platform to liaise with different businesses, which can help to increase and encourage involvement between different organisations.

Summary

In short, it has become very clear that the impact social media can have on charity exposure is huge and should definitely be an implemented strategy for any charity. Increasing one’s social media presence across varied channels ensures a charity can spread it’s ‘voice’ to a large community of people. The combination of high interaction and engagement, catchy hashtags and an element of fun through which people can easily get involved, is a great way of creating a powerful and effective fundraising tool via social media.

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