Social media provides the perfect platform for non-profit organizations and charities to raise campaign awareness, increase donations and actively engage with a wide online audience. As the increase in social media and online PR activity continues to grow into 2011, an increasing number of charities are starting to incorporate social media platforms into their promotional strategies. In light of this, I have outlined 5 key social media opportunities more and more charities will be making the most of in the New Year.
1. Tweet-a-thons - Twitter provides a fantastic opportunity for charities to engage with their audience through unique online events such as 12 or 24-hour Tweet-a-thons. Through organised Tweet-a-thon events, charities invite followers to tweet about an ongoing campaign or cause as much as possible to their own followers, encouraging supporters to include donate links and hashtags in all their tweets. This in turn creates a significant buzz around the cause and is the perfect way to increase donations and followers in a short period of time. Targets can also be set alongside Tweet-a-thons, such as aiming to reach a certain number of new followers, or to raise a set amount of money within the 12 or 24-hour period. So far the concept of the Tweet-a-thon has proved to be an effective one, with companies such as earthtweet & 12Kfor12K already finding significant success in utilising their Twitter profiles in this way.
2. Twibbons - Twibbons are pretty much an online version of the charity wristband idea that charities such as LIVESTRONG and Make Poverty History utilised so well recently. By enabling followers of a charity to customise their Twitter profile pics with a "virtual wristband" or banner, Twibbons are a fantastic way for followers to display their support for a charity and help to increase visibility for a campaign within their own social media groups. When a supporter adds a charity's Twibbon to their Twitter profile, a message is automatically sent out to that fan's followers with links to donation and Twibbon pages.
3. Facebook Causes - With over 140 million users, Facebook Causes provides non-profits with a unique way to use Facebook to set up or support a cause and collect donations by putting the interaction and activity in the hands of the followers. Facebook Causes not only enables charities to communicate with followers, collect donations, and co-ordinate petitions - it also enables followers of a cause to create their own Causes profile and become actively engaged with collecting more and more followers and donations for the cause themselves. This aspect of Facebook Causes ensures that followers can both display their support and achievements for a charity as well as become a key participant within a collective community.
4. Crowdrise - As well as enabling charities to create their own campaign/fundraiser page, set donation targets, and share campaigns across Twitter and Facebook, Crowdrise also enables charities to set up contests, projects and activities for followers to take part in. In the same way that fans of Foursquare earn check-in points, users of Crowdrise are able to earn Crowdrise points the more active they are on the site. Additionally, users can create or join a Crowdrise Project Team, a feature that enables a group of fundraisers or volunteers to go that one step further to become key members in raising awareness across their own multiple social media networks. Crowdrise not only offers something new and fresh in its approach, but is also presents charities with the perfect channel to increase volunteers, donations, and followers by integrating something unique and fun into their campaigns at the same time.
5. Integrated YouTube Campaigns - Video and visual elements have always played an important role in charity campaigns, as they often provide an important snapshot and insight into the cause that other forms of media cannot capture. By integrating an effective YouTube campaign into their overall promotional strategy, charities are not only able to reach a wider online audience, but they are also making it easier for supporters to share video content across their own social media networks, resulting in an increase in visibility. Additionally, charities can also set up their own non-profit Youtube channel - an area that charities can customise and manage to host all their videos from, with added sharing features including links to donation pages through video annotations, call-to-action overlays and buttons embedded within the Youtube videos themselves. By creating a regularly updated YouTube channel, non-profits and charities are able to instantly update their supporters with video content ranging from pledges to video blog entries, to interviews and case studies - all of which go a long way towards effectively connecting and communicating the cause with the audience and supporters.
From ongoing engagement and fundraising activities, to enabling followers to feel part of a collective cause and online community, social media platforms provide charities and the PR companies working alongside them with the perfect opportunity to get more and more people actively involved in supporting and promoting their campaigns in 2011.