Highlights from charity Twitter

Poster in the corridor at Twitter HQ in London in 2017. Says - In case of fire, exit building BEFORE tweeting about it.

I don’t know about you, but watching the very speedy ‘developments’ at Twitter over the past few weeks has been very unsettling. My timeline is full of doom about the end of Twitter. News about layoffs (including the accessibility team), verification rule changes, platform instability and high-profile departures has been relentless. It’s only been two and a half weeks.

I have been a heavy Twitter user since 2008. It has been instrumental to my freelance career as a way of keeping an eye on trends in the sector as well as making connections. It has also been a place for information, friendships and silliness.

And so, I watch and wait (along with everyone else – 85% of a recent Charity Comms poll), hoping that the disruption settles and the platform carries on. We’ll see…..

Twitter – what next?

There are some useful articles looking at what’s happened already and what might come.

A force for good

We have long since moved on from peak Twitter. Day-to-day engagement is not what it used to be. Blame the algorithm or drop in daily users. But it is still the go-to place for breaking news, high-volume comms and for conversation. It is used by journalists and decision-makers. It is still a key part of any channel strategy.

Think about the recent #AttackOnNature response. RSPB’s comms activity was huge on Twitter. The speed and scale of the comms was best suited to the channel and helped to gain lots of momentum for the campaign. This noise got it noticed by the press, hundreds of other organisations who got involved, and thousands of people who took action. Was this the last big hurrah for charity Twitter?

RSPB tweet - make no mistake, we are anrgy. This Government today launched an attack on nature. We don't use the words that follow lightly. We are entering uncharted territory. Please read this thread. 1/13

It made me think back to how Twitter has been embraced and experimented with by the charity sector. About the impact it has helped us all make. Here then, is almost a round-up of round-ups, with some highlights.

Fundraising

I'll donate the first new five ound note I get to a charity. Will you? #FiverGiver.

poll yes - 34.5%
Our owls need your towels! We are in desperate need of your unwanted towels for our hospital. Towels are vital when we see wild birds of prey coming in freezing cold and soaking wet, often after being found on the ground. Please donate.

> very sweet image of an owl wrapped in a towel

Making good things happen

Sharing knowledge and insights

Twitter gave us access to people’s activities and thoughts as never before. This wasn’t always a good thing but here are some of the ways it was used for good.

Raising awareness

In this organisation, women's median hourly pay is 31.8% lower than men's. 

> chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS FT
  • Gender Pay Gap Bot made a big impact in March when they used data to challenge performative comms for International Women’s Day. It continues to tweet.
  • #MentalPatient was a huge response to a supermarket selling a Halloween costume in 2013.
  • Leonard Cheshire used a tube strike to raise awareness about the accessibility of the tube network in 2014.
  • #DuvetKnowItsChristmas with Shelter (2018)
  • GiveBlood called out racism in their mentions (2017).
  • RNLI responded to negative press (2019).
  • Where was the outrage to the fires in the Amazon asked WWF in 2019. The tweet got 225k likes.
  • Thousands of charities used Twitter to raise awareness about the signs of health conditions and domestic violence. How many lives saved? This from Diabetes UK was shared today, generating 1k+ likes and shares.

Innovation

Clever. BHF and Twitter have automated this instant response to a like on BHF's new campaign. A first!
screenshot to WWF tweet. 2We're using #EndangeredEmoji to save real animals from extinction. Please retweet to sign up and help"

Fun

Tweet from MERL. One sad looking shorn sheep. The other is the classic MERL image of a HUGE magnificent sheep - the original Absolute Unit - as styled by MERL.

Cross-sector activity

Connection and support

Twitter has been a support channel, helping people connect with each other, discuss issues and form friendships and careers.

  • #FollowFriday and #CharityTuesday were busy hashtags back in the day, helping people make new connections.
  • #CharityHour has been hosting discussions and connecting people since 2014. They set a weekly theme and pose five questions.
  • #CharityJobs has helped people find new roles.
  • #FundraisingChat / #FRTweets started on Twitter in 2014 as a Friday discussion about all things fundraising. It then moved to Facebook a year later when the group got big.
  • #nfpTweetUp was a regular in-person event in London which connected charity people working in digital media. It started in 2008 when we were all getting started with digital comms and social media. I don’t think I would have become a freelancer without this wonderful network.

Twitter gave us a chance to connect with our peers. Charities connected with theirs too, often talking and supporting each other’s messages.

Your highlights

What do you think about the potential loss of Twitter? Are you sticking around personally or planning to stop your charity using it? Is it time to move on?

Has Twitter been a force for good for you? What’s your highlight? What else good happened on here?

Update

Is it safe to stay here? Come along (for one-night only) to the #NFPTweetUp to discuss what the situation means for your charity and your own use.

Join us on Zoom. Thursday 24 Nov, 7 – 8.30pm. FREE! Book now.

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