Focus on: Facebook

Charlotte Beckett, head of digital at Four Communications, looks at how charities can use Facebook


About 24 million people in Britain use Facebook daily, the majority through mobile phones. It's the third most popular website in the world, and with all that activity comes a lot of attention from big-budget brands. So how can charities make themselves heard above all that Facebook noise?

Hack the system

Not literally, of course, but adapt everyday Facebook features to tell your story. Apps such as Plan International's Life Without A Birth Certificate and Action Aid's Life in the 1950s uses personal information to show how different our lives would be in another place or era. Action Aid's app, for example, transformed the user's Facebook profile to one that resembled living in 1950s Britain, where most women were in the traditional role of housewife and sexism was rife. And the Lung Cancer Alliance integrated a Facebook app into its cross-channel No One Deserves To Die campaign. The app randomised the user's friends to illustrate facts about diagnosis: how many and who would survive more than five years. This is a stark way to remove preconceptions and stigma.

Talk to each person

Personalisation is a mantra for all campaigns, but it is  something that can work well on Facebook. In 2012, the Swedish rapper Adam Tensta wanted to make music special again in the age of unlimited online music by letting people listen to his song one at a time. His One Copy Song app allowed you to hear the song if no one else was listening to it at the time. If not, you signed up and waited your turn. This approach built demand for the song while offering each listener a unique experience. Imagine bringing supporters and beneficiaries together like this...

Start with a 'like'

It's all too easy to dismiss ‘likes’ as valueless (as Unicef highlighted effectively in its Swedish TV campaign). Yet something we've said made our potential supporters take that first, simple step. Keep talking. The public services union Unison’s What Keeps You Awake campaign started with adverts, then conversations, followed by a survey that morphed into an infographic, and finally a successful series of recruitment emails.

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