We recently got in touch with Catherine Williams, Director of Fundraising and Communications at St Ann’s Hospice, to talk about how they are using social media.
We went to see them last summer to present a workshop on ways to engage supporters through social media – they knew what they wanted to do, and what they needed to do, so it’s exciting to see their strategy borne out with a great deal of success.
Where to start – with a flashmob, of course!
St Ann’s big event every year is the Manchester Midnight Walk, and their PR agency came up with the idea of having a flashmob to promote its launch. People were recruited through a special Twitter account (@FlashMobUK), and invited to join a Facebook group promising Manchester’s biggest flashmob.
This is a brilliant example of using free social media sites to help promote an event through to capturing the results of it and building on the impact. They used Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube to share a lot of great content – a large proportion of which was not even created by the charity itself.
What I should stress is that the tools used aren’t important per se, it’s what they’re used for. And they’ve been used extremely effectively here – creating a following, engaging with it, and getting people to act.
What are the results?
The Twitter feed accrued an impressive 742 followers in a very short space of time, and 166 people signed up for the flashmob. Whilst only around 50 turned up, 38% of them were recruited via Facebook and Twitter, and 42% were from the local Student Union.
That’s a very healthy percentage recruited solely through the web – perhaps showing that if the audience can be engaged properly, then it will act. Having said that, this also shows that it’s a good idea to support online promotion with offline promotion – they are by no means mutually exclusive, and can certainly support each other.
The stunt also generated a good amount of PR for the charity and raised awareness of the event, especially with a younger audience. As you can see from the last ‘tweet’ of the flashmob account, they used it to cross-promote the Midnight walk’s own Twitter feed following the launch. Which is in turn promoting the Facebook event (you need to be logged in to Facebook to see it, but they are now driving people to a new fan page)…
And the Facebook event, in turn, promotes the office website where people can register for the walk: www.manchestermidnightwalk.org.uk
Was it successful?
Only 6 weeks into opening registration for the event for the ‘early birds’, St Ann’s already had 1,340 registrants (from a total target of 3,000) for an event that doesn’t take place until June.
That’s 238% more than the end of the early bird registration last year! That’s some achievement.
What did they learn?
We asked Catherine to give some insight into how they’d managed this strategy and sold the concept of using social media internally, as that’s often something that charities tell us they find hard to do:
“I’m a big fan of social networking and could see the benefits for some of our fundraising. Our team of fundraisers could also see the benefits but when their eyes glazed over after I mentioned ‘using Facebook’ for the 100th time, I realised that they just didn’t have the time (and were a little bit scared) to investigate how it could work for their own fundraising. There seemed to be so many options and ideas.
The Justgiving session with Jonathan was so helpful in giving an overview and loads of ideas. Since then, step by step we have introduced some of them for our website and for events – as staff have seen Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, You Tube etc working, they are now actively contributing social media ideas to their own fundraising. If I could give one tip it would be: do one thing now – you don’t need a strategy in place, just try it out! For example, set up a Facebook group/event or a Twitter site and actively promote it on your emails – see what happens as a result!”
All in all, it’s a superb example of many people in a fundraising and communications team using a variety of tools, linking them together to support the distinct user-base each tool serves, and promoting the one event through all of those different avenues.
Thanks to Catherine and St Ann’s Hospice for sharing their success story!