Or Twitter Lessons Every Charity Can Learn from Comic Relief

How to use Twitter for charityI’m not suggesting that charities using Twitter should out and out copy what the team at Comic Relief does, but you gotta admit they got some serious social media style.

So what can you do as a charity (or volunteer raising funds for charity) to get just a tiny bit of the Twitter love that Comic Relief does?

Twitter Lesson #1 Use Your Famous Followers

Ok, Comic Relief is a little unusual in its volume of famous fans, it was set up by a group of high profile comedians after all.

However, most of the major charities do from time to time work with celebrities.

But does your charity work this to your advantage?

Do you ask the Twitter users to tweet about the work they’ve done with you?  Do you give them the links you need them to send their followers too?

Have you thought about asking your celebritweeters (sorry, in my head that worked better than it does on paper.  I mean screen) to offer something awesome to their followers?

Various famous people have been auctioning off becoming someone’s Twitter friend for 90 days for Comic Relief.  Awesome, right?  In exchange for cash you too could be best buds (on Twitter) with Edgar Wright, Richard Herring and many, many others.

Ok, I realise if you’re in my shoes and aren’t actually affiliated with a charity merely volunteering your support, this won’t work all that well for you.  If you’re a teeny charity, you might not have that much celebrity clout.  But you know what?

Celebrities are people too.

Busy people, yes, but people.  Ask them (politely), if they could retweet* something about your charity.  They may not, but they just might.  Worth a shot for 140 characters, right?

Twitter Lesson #2 Have a Special Day

Red Nose Day Trending on Twitter

Is there a “National Diabetes Day”?  No?  Could you make one?  Ok, for this to really work, you’ll need a whole PR strategy.  But here’s the clever bit, you can bring together all the many, many people, organisations and charities who can help people with diabetes.

Maybe you’ll ask healthy eating sites and fitness sites, maybe even lifestyle magazines as well as other diabetes charities to get involved.

Before you say it, I know, what the hell has that got to do with Twitter?  Guess what the number one worldwide trending topic is on Twitter right now?

Hint: The clues in the picture on the right.

Yep, Red Nose Day.  Or rather #rnd

Get a lot of different people together and get them all talking about one big thing, one big day, the more people who are involved, the better.

Twitter Lesson #3 … Or a Special Event

I realise if you are more of a one man (or even a one man, your mum, some mates and a blog) band, you may not have the power to pull together a whole day of promotion.  But could you do a one hour special event?  Can you get everyone you know talking about something for just an hour?

Events and Twitter go together like shoes and socks, peanut butter and jam, jelly and ice cream, rain and cats and dogs… No, forget that last one.  All I mean is that events are good for concentrated Twitter love.

Try bringing together different groups – if you really are a little guy with nothing but a computer and your wits, could you just do a “Twitter charity event”?  Pick a hashtag, pick your topic and get people Tweeting.

Twitter Lesson #4 Use hashtags

I’ve mentioned them a few times, but hashtags** really are the key for bringing people together on Twitter.  Set a #hashtag for your event/idea/charity and use it everywhere – let people know that it’s the way to talk about your cause and, of course, use it yourself!

Twitter Lesson #5 Do Something Unmissable

I realise that this is a tall order, but if you can do something incredible, do it.  I can’t tell you how to do this one, but all I’ll say is look at this tweet:

Unmissable charity events can equal tweets

How much do I wish I’d seen this Comic Relief moment?

And conveniently the official Red Nose Day account tweeted a link to buy a download of the video on iTunes minutes later.

Twitter Lesson #6 Don’t Make Stupid Mistakes

Ok, I don’t want to be mean, cos clearly Comic Relief is doing awesome stuff – but two small gripes:

1. That link I told you about to the iTunes download?  Well, it wasn’t a link, just the address of the website.  Make things easy – give people summat to click on.  Don’t know what I mean?  Use http:// at the start of the address!

2. Be consistent with your hashtags.  Most people are tweeting for Red Nose Day with #rnd, but a few are also using #comicrelief.  Part of the problem is that Comic Relief is the charity, Red Nose Day is the event – but the 2 are so closely linked people don’t know the difference.

Working with lots of different charities helps, but also put out the hashtag that you want people to use in the run up to your event, so people are familiar with it before you need them to use it.

So, there you have it, my humble thoughts on how to use Twitter for charity.  Hope you find this useful, and please do share any other tips you’ve got in the blog comments!


*If you don’t know what a retweet is or how to do it, read a How to Tweet guide, this is about smarter use of Twitter for charities, not Twitter for beginners. **Same goes for hashtags.