How to use social channels effectively to maximise fundraising

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Irish giving stats by platform, traffic source and average donation value

Social media offers charitable organisations the opportunity to reach an ever-growing audience, and thanks to continual technological innovation in the sector, in an ever-increasing number of ways. The range of social media networks consumers can choose from has exploded, and while the big four (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube) continue to monopolise the global audience, the ways in which consumers engage (from PCs to mobile and tablets) are constantly evolving.

However, greater choice doesn’t always mean greater efficiencies, particularly for organisations trying to reach consumers. The sheer number of options and considerations can often be baffling.

Take a different approach with each social network

There isn’t simply a broad brush that can be applied to all social media platforms. What might work on Facebook will not necessarily work on Twitter or Google+. Not only are the audiences different, but the way in which they engage, and importantly, the way in which they are served content, differ enormously.

Facebook and Twitter require a very different approach for example.

While Twitter acts as a news ticker, with a shorter shelf life of tweets, it offers the opportunity to engage in much higher frequency of publication. Replicate that strategy on Facebook however, and not only is there a risk that the audience might feel spammed and manually dislike the page, but also the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm (which determines the reach of page content to an audience based affinity, weighting and time) will most likely automatically refuse to serve replicated content and penalise the future reach of content from the page too. And that’s just two examples.

Tailoring social giving campaigns by location

Being more specific still, and with particular reference to the charitable sector, geography and location can also play a significant role in how people interact with social media.

Recent JustGiving research shows that 37% of total Irish visits to the website came through Facebook, with the average donation being 25.77 euros (1st May 2013-31st July 2013). Compare that with Twitter where only 7% of visits came through the platform, with an average donation of 5.98 euros. Research like this can be invaluable in tailoring outreach campaigns to ensure they are optimal.

Plan campaigns around regional social media trends

Furthermore, social media usage on a day by day basis can differ regionally. While traffic from the UK peaks on a Friday, in Ireland it’s a Wednesday. In the UK whilst 10am is optimal for traffic, in Ireland it’s 8pm – quite a significant difference and particularly relevant given the previous observation regarding posting times and spam-risk on Facebook and Twitter.

Undeniably indeed, social media continues to grow exponentially, and the scope for charitable organisations to maximise these opportunities is vast. But what is clear, is that if it is important to maximise efficiencies and ensure resource is invested for maximum returns (which surely is a pre-requisite in the sector), then conducting the appropriate research into the right channels to use, at the right time, with the right message is crucial.

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Marco is the country manager for Ireland. He’s passionate about helping Irish charities move away from traditional sponsorship methods and embrace the latest online, social and mobile fundraising technologies. He’s also excited about creating partnerships with leading events like the Airtricity Dublin Marathon and Run in the Dark, and inspiring more people to fundraise for the causes they care about.