May 7, 2010

How to make Twitter campaigns more effective

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The secret: Moving up the Ladder of Engagement

Beth KanterWhole Foods is among those sponsoring a Mother’s Day fundraising campaign on Twitter. Whole Foods is donating a $1 for each retweet of this tweet to support The National Domestic Violence Hotline. I call this type of fundraising campaign the sponsored Tweet approach, where potential donors do not have to open their own checkbooks but instead retweet or use a hashtag to leverage a donation from a corporate sponsor to a charity. One of the earlier examples of this was the HoneyBees Campaign on Twitter sponsored by Haagen-Daaz Ice Cream. (See Juilos Vasconcellos’ analysis.)

With all fundraising and activist campaigns, I think it is important to think of your conversation and messaging strategies in the context of the Ladder of Engagement – whether you are focusing on one campaign or your fundraising campaigns for the whole year.


Think about all the various ways your organization interacts with different groups of people through its communications and fundraising efforts – through social media or other traditional channels. You will no doubt discover that some people engage with you lightly and others will engage with you more deeply. Face it, not every single person your organization touches will have the same level of passion or interest in your program. And, that is not a problem, it’s just the way it is.

To be successful in integrating social media into your fundraising channels, you need to use different techniques, tactics and tools to map to the person’s level of interest. You need a portfolio of approaches or maybe even campaigns that meet people where they are at and help get them more engaged with your cause and organization.

Single Call To Action: Spread Awareness

The Whole Foods sponsored retweet donations is focused on a lower level of engagement, simply spreading the message. This type of campaign is a win-win for sponsors and for nonprofits that need to boost awareness of their issue and have just started dipping toes into the social media waters.

What is missing is some mechanism for the nonprofit to reconnect with those who are retweeting the message and engage and educate them, perhaps getting them to the point of making a donation, volunteering or signing up for a newsletter.

Integrated Call To Action: Spread Awareness and Donate

My colleague, Geoff Livingston, recently wrote an analysis on Mashable about Twitter’s new social good initiative Hope 140. The first effort was the #EndMalaria campaign that used the TwitPay platform for donations, creating a combined call to action that asked Twitter users to retweet by donating $10. The Case Foundation matched donations with a $25,000 grant. The effort raised over $11,000.

Ecosystem of Calls To Action: Spread Awareness, Donate, and Create Content

Another example of this combined called to action comes from Epic Change and its “To Mama With Love.” Their call to action focuses on donating and user-generated content. What I think has made this campaign catch on is that it is powered by love or an emotion we feel for our mothers or being a mother. Also, Tweetsgiving has been building and cultivating a network and has now has a cadre of people who are engaging in a deep way by encouraging peers to participate.


Work to get more people engaged as you strive to gently nudge them further up the rungs of your ladder.

It is important to understand that these levels of engagement are part of an ecosystem. While fewer people may reach the very highest levels of engagement because of the time commitment, personal connection or interest, those with lower engagement are important to the ecosystem because they spread awareness. Recognize and appreciate people where they’re at, and work to get more people engaged as you strive to gently nudge them further up the rungs of your ladder.

This takes a combination of tactics and approaches – from one-on-one relationship building to more broadly spreading your message. You need also take into account where you are in developing your network at all times. You should be nurturing those higher levels of engagement outside of campaign mode. You also need metrics and measurement to see what works in terms of moving people up the rungs!

What is your repertoire of engagement techniques to inspire people to move up the ladder? Are you thinking about it one campaign at a time or as an ongoing activity that includes campaigns? How do you balance your social media strategy so it includes both low and high levels of engagement?

Cross-posted from Beth’s Blog.

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Beth Kanter is CEO of Zoetica, a consultancy for nonprofits. See her profile, visit her blog, contact Beth or leave a comment.

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