You've developed your social media strategy, now it's time to put it into action!


In this section, we enjoy expert insights from content specialists Madeleine Sugden and Kirsty Marrins. You'll learn how to plan your activity, how to pick the right images and how to tell a story.


One of the most common questions we hear from charities is, ‘How should I manage social media every day?’ Social Media can be far more time consuming than anticipated, especially when it comes to balancing day to day work with being responsive to your users. Here's how to help manage that balance:

Create a simple system for sourcing content. Put together a content calendar, whether it’s in the form of a Google doc or a spreadsheet. Whether you’re a large or small charity, this is a good way to get people to think collectively or holistically about content and ideas and will help break down silos. People don’t realise what useful information they’re sitting on!.


When selecting the right content and source images - it must speak to your audience and resonate with them (and remember, doesn’t always need to be your own content).


Get buy-in. Whichever content planning system you use, it won’t work unless your colleagues support you and understand the benefit to them. You need to open up the channels of communication and get colleagues excited about how it can help them and the charity.

 Find smart ways of working. Charities need to be responsive - and quick to do so on social media. It’s fine to schedule your content, and you could even do so up to a week before, however you still need to go into your social media feeds several times a day to respond to comments.


I also recommend downloading the apps on your phone and checking in frequently to see if everything is okay. This will also give you ideas for topical content when you see what others in your sector or your supporters and beneficiaries are talking about.


Measure success. Get a feel for what works through looking at your analytics. By understanding what kind of content your audience likes, you’ll save time in planning.


Charities should be aware of how much time they have to devote to social media.

Twitter - Ideally, you should aim to post at least three proactive tweets a day, and two reactive.

 For Facebook, some charities post once a day, some three times a week. Above all, charities should focus efforts on really great content and prioritise quality over quantity.


  • Create a system for sourcing content and get buy-in for it from your colleagues
  • Do schedule content, but make sure you pop into your social media channels several times a day to respond to your audience
  • Use your analytics tools to learn on the go about what content works for your audience



As competition for air-time increases on social media, your content is having to work even harder to be read, shared, liked or clicked on.


Social media isn’t the place for long paragraphs of carefully written content.


Content which works best has an emotional impact which people can relate to and instantly connect with. Well-produced stories can help to explain why your cause is important, show how the work you do makes a difference, explain about difficult topics, change attitudes and give a voice to those you help – from their perspective.


A good story can share the detail of a moment or can show transitions or a bigger picture. Stories can be shocking or funny or sad or happy. They should bring the person or situation to life. They should be interesting, start with impact and end with an action for the reader (share / vote / help etc).


Storytelling on social media can take many forms - from a single tweet, image or quote, to a written case study, personal video blog (vlog), podcast or video.


Case study-type storytelling is, generally written about the person rather than by the person. Take a look at MNDA’s Shortened Stories campaign for an example of storytelling told in the third person with creative visuals.

Simple objects can tell a story – see WaterAid’s maternity bag series for their Deliver Life appeal which was widely shared and covered by press including Stylist Magazine and the Huffington Post.

Live storytelling can be lots of work but good for big stories – see Marie Curie who followed some of their staff across the UK on International Nurses Day. They used social media to share images and stories as well as posting them into a live blog.

Housing charity Shelter often use live tweeting to show the variety of work they do using the hashtag #ShelterStories. This example shows a day of dealing with repossession cases at Accrington County Court.

ser-generated stories bring additional authenticity as they are in the words of the people telling them – see NHS Organ Donation’s Facebook where they re-post stories shared by their community.

Creative storytelling can be interactive. See the British Red Cross’ Disaster Island which is an interactive video using lego.


  • Talk to your colleagues, staff, beneficiaries and volunteers to source stories and then plan how you can use them on social media
  • Think about how your approach will enhance the content you share, and how this could work on different channels. Will you use images, live storytelling, or do something creative and innovative?
  • Ultimately, your stories should serve a purpose and demonstrate your charity’s impact. How will you achieve this?



For a charity it can be challenging to source, manage and use images. With little or no budget, hard to illustrate causes or sensitive subjects, it can feel like an easier option to do nothing. But on social media images are key to raising your profile and building engagement.

On text-based social media channels (such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) images are increasingly needed to draw people in. In someone’s busy feed, eye-catching images will inspire someone to pause, read, click, share, comment or act. Images are not just window dressing. They can be used to tell a story, give information, raise awareness and/or entertain.


Image-based channels such as Instagram are well used by big charities who use the channel to share great images and stories. For some great examples, see six charities getting Instagram right. 300 million people now use Instagram everyday.


What makes an engaging photo or eye-catching graphic? What is your ‘housestyle’? Social media is more informal than other digital communication methods so you can be more playful and show more personality. However, this works better for some brands than others. For example, St John Ambulance used Game of Thrones to share first aid tips. This might not have worked so well for NHS England.


Use images of community or challenge fundraising such as happy people running marathons, cake sales and seasonal events.

Use images to say thank you - see GiveAsYouLive’s cute puppy and Marie Curie’s hand-drawn thanks).

Use images (and stories) of beneficiaries

Avoid pictures of giant cheques (if you can)!


  • Maps, infographics and totalisers work well on social media – the Big Issue Foundation regularly share this guide to their impact.
  • Be creative with how you present data. For example make a pie-chart out of an actual pie, jelly babies to show numbers of people, or hand-drawn images. See BHF’s portion size guide.


It can be hard to illustrate your work if your cause is related to a medical condition or a sensitive subject. However, there are ways around this:



There are lots of free tools to help you create images (such as Canva). If you have a smart phone, why not take the photo you need yourself? A good picture on social media:


  • Is clear and easy to understand.
  • Tells a story or shows something happening.
  • Is uncluttered and in focus Isn’t dark or gloomy.
  • Can be cropped in closely.
  • Can be moving / shocking / funny.
  • Can be creative.


  • Know what kind of images will suit your brand and how they work on different social channels.
  • Think about what you want people to do after they have seen the image. What is your call to action and how will you communicate that?
  • Make sure you allow time to source or create images as part of your content creation process


  • A guide to using images on social media for charities (Madeleine Sugden)
  • The always up to date guide to social media image sizes (Social Sprout)
  • Psychological insights for building powerful images (Quick Sprout)


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