Seriously, don’t give

Stuart Glen, Director of Fundraising at OneKind, has written an exclusive guest blog post on using Twitter to broadcast rather than connect with your supporters…

This #CharityTuesday, I tried something different. I asked followers on Twitter not to give.


I remembered the Oakwood School Don’t Give video from the US (see below) and wondered could the messaging be repeated in the UK? Could it be replicated on Twitter? No strategy. No masterplan. Just curious.


Well, after 28 tweets later [great name for a film], what did I learn? Was it successful? Ultimately, no. I didn’t receive one additional donation in support of my fundraising efforts. I lost three followers on the day; goodness knows how many others I annoyed and/or muted my stream.

Reverse psychology is nothing new, so why didn’t it work? Other than the obvious fact I’m not Steve Carell or J.K. Simmons. My view is that somewhere between the medium and the execution it fell down.

Twitter succeeds when users establish relationships and enter into two-way conversations. This exercise highlighted for me the failings of users (many of them charities) that do nothing but broadcast. Throughout the day I didn’t engage with loyal followers that commented on my different approach to Twitter that morning. Even when the negative bombardment abated, the inevitable switch to a more positive ask felt clumsy, cold and corporate – preachy even. Someone with a lot more finesse than I may make this work, and I’d love to know if any UK charities have tried this approach already.

My Don’t Give #CharityTuesday has passed and normal service has resumed. Oh look, dancing cartoon badgers. 


#kennethcoletweets {like an absolute tool}

So you’re a rich dude who owns a fashion house for people who don’t care about fashion. You’re at home thinking ‘how can I flog more nasty bland shoes?’ Do you:
A. Buy some ads in GQ.
B. Hire yourself some kind of social media genius who can sell poorly made clothing to morons.
C. Daub ‘buy my shit’ on your forehead with a sharpie.

Nah, none of the above. Instead Kenneth Cole decided to tweet:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC”

‘Satire’ is ok where it is intended to have a positive impact. It is not ok when said ‘satire’ is designed to sell shiny suits.

Cole followed up the tweet with an apology:

“Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC.”

Hmmm, clearly you don’t. Off the back of his tweet came @KennethColePR, a genuinely satirical twitter account taking Cole’s brand of harmless fun to the Nth degree. Be sure to follow #kennethcoletweets

So is this all a little harsh? Did he attempt to exploit a serious political situation to sell clothing or was it simply poor judgement?

Twitter is a lifesaver…literally

Richard Hudson, Digital Media Manager with Meningitis Trust, has written an exclusive guest blog post on how twitter quite possibly saved a young boy’s life…

This week, for over 48 hours and counting, Meningitis Trust supporters, Chris and Katy Mann aka @mannix1000, have been on an awareness mission using their Twitter profile.

Chris and Katy tragically lost their three month-old son, Charlie, to meningitis in October 2010 and are so passionate to help save lives from this devastating disease, which took their baby son away.

The husband and wife team took on the challenge of contacting celebrities and well-known tweeters, and asking them to help, just by simply retweeting this message. “Hi please help with a RT. Meningitis awareness, my son died age 3 months. thanks.” Simple, but so effective.

During their mission, they received the tweet they dreamt of. Comic Ed Byrne @MrEdByrne kindly retweeted the couple’s message. Hours later they received a tweet on January 12, 2011 in the early hours which made all of the hard work worthwhile “@mannix1000 @mredbyrne Meningitis tweet prob saved my son today; I got a second opinion and they called the ambulance. Thank you both. X”

Hundreds of people have supported this mission by simply retweeting and reading Charlie’s blog. The blog has received over 36,000 hits since it was created and is now one of the main sources that lead internet users to the Meningitis Trust’s website, where people can get the vital disease information that will save lives.

This year the Trust is celebrating 25 years of supporting people after meningitis. It has come a long way since it started and is using social media and the wonders of digital technology to reach even more people with awareness and support.

The recent YouTube video of “Please ReTweet Me” has seen the Trust really embrace digital and it is not stopping.; certainly not after the success of Chris and Katy’s mission.

Meningitis will never go away; it’s a disease that can strike in minutes and kill within hours, and the Trust will continue to be there for the families who have faced meningitis, just like the Mann’s, for as long as they are needed.

Follow the Trust today @meningitistrust and if you see anything you like, why not give a simple retweet. You never know, it could be you that saves a life.

Tell me what you would do with and it’s yours

I bought the domain name a while back with the intention of doing something clever with it…thing is I never did. I’m not entirely sure what made me register the name, I guess it’s kind of a cross between ‘versus’ and ‘twitter’. Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyhoo…the domain expires May 2011 and I’ve got no plans for it. So tell me what you’d use for and it’s yours. You don’t have to be a charity but it would be nice if your idea had some social good. I’ll also chuck in and the @Twersus twitter account as well.

Leave your comments below or tweet me using the hashtag #twersus. I’ll pick a winner by Fri 10th Dec 12pm GMT.

@marcbowker’s take on #BeGoodBeSocial

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, are friends with me on Facebook, or who I’ve spoken to recently will probably know my involvement in BeGoodBeSocial. But I’m acutely aware that even those of you who know me still are a little bemused by what all the fuss was about surrounding the very first Third Sector meet up for people to come together with an interest in social media for social good.

There have already been many blogs written about this amazingly successful event and so I’m not simply going to repeat what they’ve all said, appreciating that I’m a little slow off the mark! Instead, I’d like to attempt to get across what impact the Be Good Be Social event has had on the group of individuals who attended it. It goes without saying that without Ross McCulloch of Third Sector Lab, founder of Be Good Be Social, the event probably wouldn’t have happened. Ross is an amazing person who I’ve come to know and who really gets behind an idea and drives it. He’s also somebody, in my opinion, who likes to remove himself from the limelight and instead concentrates on reaping the rewards of change that his ideas create.

Be Good Be Social brought together individuals from across the Third Sector who actually wanted to be there! People were intrigued about what all the fuss was about. They were hungry to learn, eager to ask questions and excited about the future. I wasn’t alone then.

Let me take a quick break here and tell you were I’ve come from to be here and involved in Be Good Be Social. Twitter. That amazing micro blogging site that you either love, hate or simply don’t get. But let me tell you, Twitter is an extremely powerful resource. It also changed the way that I interacted with people. Still scratching your head? Well, I work in Communications (think brand awareness, PR, print, design and all that goes with that kind of stuff), I should be an excellent networker right? Wrong. I hate networking! I hate the thought of attending an event and having to introduce myself to complete strangers. It sends shivers up my spine whenever I have to do such a thing. But then Twitter arrived. And at first I, like many people, simple tested it out, made mistakes, learnt from them, learnt new ways to use Twitter etc. Then the Glasgow Twestival happened and it changed all that. I had been tweeting a growing personal network of people within my vicinity for months in the run up to the Twestival and then bang, the event finally arrived. I turned up, wrote my Twitter name on my sticker and attached it to my chest, as had all the other attendees. Within an instant, I knew the person I’d been tweeting to the other day, week or month. Barriers were immediately broken down, the ice was certainly broken and we could chat to each other about our tweets and rapidly move on to something else. These people were no longer simply on my computer screen but were now physically in my network. I knew who I warmed to, who I wasn’t sure of and who I thought I’d like to get to know you better.

So there you go, Twitter is the sole reason that I’m involved in Be Good Be Social, because that’s were I was first introduced to all the people I met at the actual event in person. Amazing isn’t it? Well I think so.

Be Good Be Social has left all those who attended and all those who joined in the conversation via the hashtag (#BeGoodBeSocial) keen to share and collaborate on ideas within the Third Sector. They want more. They want another Be Good Be Social. They want to speak to each other about things that are relevant to all of us working in this sector.

Things are about to change around here through a group of people striving to make a difference in our local communities. Together, we’re embracing the power of social media to make change happen, to raise awareness of things that matter in our society and to make people realise that there are people worse off than us.

Can you feel that power yet?

Of course, we’re already talking about the next Be Good Be Social. Why not prepare yourself now so you don’t miss any announcements:

The web:


Twitter: (follow the conversation with the hashtag #BeGoodBeSocial)

View photos taken by the amazing Julie Broadfoot on the night of the very first Be Good Be Social right here: 


Being good and social – @Tumshie on posterous


I went along to last week’s #BeGoodBeSocial event at Edinburgh’s Melting Pot with a certain amount of apprehension. Since leaving the charity sector last year I’ve maintained a level of caution about getting too close to a world that occupied me, sometimes unhealthily, for over six years. I led Oxfam’s Digital Communications team (née Interactive Media) for four of those years, taking over the role shortly after Tim O’Reilly coined the term Web 2.0, YouTube was born, and at a time when Facebook’s main focus was college campuses rather than world domination. The scars I bear are for another post but it’s safe to say that there was a lot of flux, fuss and fallout over digital and social media during that period.

Attending #BeGoodBeSocial meant resurfacing questions that still reverberate in my head about how charities make appropriate use of digital tools, whether the often misplaced focus on numbers and media headlines had diminished any, and if those over-used words ‘engagement’ and ‘participation’ were really being embraced.

What a difference an evening makes.

Ross McCulloch (@thirdsectorlab) didn’t take nearly enough credit for creating an occasion that just worked. There was an informality that’s often missing at professional events; people turned up agenda-free to learn, to share, and to discuss, and that had a lot to do with how the evening was pitched in the weeks leading up to it.

Another masterstroke was in the choice of presenters – there can be a yawning sense of deja vu at events when person after person recounts their organisational ticklist of ‘things we’ve done’ but fails to give any additional context or insight. Here, however, were four very different, very compelling takes on being good and social:

  • Martin Keane (@onekindmk) talked about the wide and varied techniques OneKind are using with social channels. It was excellent to hear a focus on reciprocity, a genuinely varied multi-channel strategy, and honesty about success measures – and (thank you!) another person daring to suggest Twitter might not be the direct route to audiences that some would have you believe.
  • Steve Bridger (@stevebridger) offered a calm and considered guide to relationship-building that didn’t shy away from presenting tricky issues. There’s a real art to translating complex challenges into common-sense solutions, but Steve does so with aplomb and a very attractive slide deck. ‘Grow bigger ears’ was, for me, the phrase of the night.
  • Snook (@wearesnook) were just a breath of fresh air. I missed their workshop but was given the elevator pitch version by Kirsty (@kirsty_joan): developing audience personas beyond the usual broad brushstrokes. Viva la revolution – not everyone uses Facebook the same way! Lauren (@redjotter), whose MacBook had sent the entire livestream into disarray, summarised what they do in a short and sweet presentation. Their people-centric and design-led approach to social change is inspiring.
  • Rosie MacIntosh (who tweets from @oxfamscotland) finished things off with a presentation that would have given me a hernia in my previous role. But here are Oxfam Scotland facilitating a grassroots blogger network – allowing people to have a conversation about their shared values and interests – rather than storming in with a fixed agenda. Placing a value on engagement first and foremost is genuinely refreshing, and I loved the openness of it all.

So my outtake is one of positivity and very pleasant surprise: based on the evidence above there is not only some great work going on but also – more importantly – a sense of difficult questions being chewed over. Sitting in the pub afterwards (probably the oldest at the table, eek) it was really invigorating to hear people talking about all this stuff in a strategic, considered and experienced way. I want to slap myself for using the term ‘digital native’ but the gulf between those that actually *use* the tools as opposed to those who read a load of articles about why you should be using them is pretty massive.

Clearly the challenge remains in educating decision makers about what social media is and isn’t, and seeing beyond the more obvious headlines and trends. What I would observe – based on my own 18-month hiatus – is that events like this prove the debate is definitely going in the right direction.