Measuring your social media activities and having clear goals for success are the cornerstones of successful charities using the medium. Social media can be an amazing tool, it can also be limited. It is not a magic bullet - it is after all just another channel that needs to be assessed just as you would measure the impact of any direct mail or outbound campaigns. Linked to this, 'organic' reach (the amount of people who see your posts without you paying) on social media is declining, making social advertising a crucial component of your strategy.


In this section, we enjoy expert insights from Bertie Bosredon and Donna Moore. You'll learn how to measure success and set the foundations for social advertising.


Before we start - I will assume you already have a presence on social media. If not, you should first list the reasons why your organisation is not yet on what is now a 10 year old essential channel.


Review where traffic is coming from in Google Analytics (Acquisition> Channels). Most charities are getting more traffic from social media than from email. The average social media traffic in the UK charity sector is around 5%. Getting them to visit your website should not be the ultimate objective… more on that later.

How to find your traffic breakdown within Google Analytics

Although it’s likely that most of your social media traffic will come from Facebook and Twitter, Linkedin is now the third source of social traffic for UK charities. Other platforms like YouTube, Pinterest or blogging platform Tumblr are bringing far less visits but are still worth considering.


If you think of the traditional fundraising supporter pyramid, social media adds a few layers below the base of the pyramid: becomes aware of the organisation, reads a post, follow/like, share or retweet, visit the website… I recommend five simple objectives:


1. Increase awareness of the organisation.

2. Grow relevant social media audience.

3. Promote our core services/products.

4. Increase referral to our core services/products.

5. Increase internal engagement.


Here’s my fairly long list of recommended metrics to report on at least monthly


  • Percentage of traffic from referrals
  • Top 5 referring websites
  • Percentage of traffic from social media
  • Social media channel bringing most traffic
  • Percentage of traffic from Twitter
  • Percentage increase of followers on Twitter
  • Twitter replies
  • Twitter retweets
  • Subject matter of the 5 most successful tweets
  • Percentage of traffic from Facebook
  • Percentage increase of followers on Facebook
  • Facebook likes
  • Facebook shares
  • Facebook comments
  • Subject matter of the 5 most successful posts

Specific channels have their own analytics tools (Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, YouTube Stats…), that’s a personal preference but I don’t use these tools to report on an overall activity. I find them more useful for specific campaigns or to explain to one team how a specific message performed.


Often forgotten, it is essential to measure staff engagement to demonstrate the impact of their participation in the digital activity of the organisation.


  • Total Tweets created
  • Total Facebook posts
  • Total videos produced and posted (e.g. on YouTube)
  • Total number of presentations uploaded on Slideshare
  •  Number of tweets from staff personal accounts
  • Interesting stories / results shared by staff
  • Number of social media champions across all department
  • Number of internal social media training sessions delivered


Once a year, you should have a short workshop with your social media champions, discussion successes, learnings, key stats they can share with their teams. It is also an opportunity to review new channels. Social Media is here to stay, although channels are evolving just like every aspect of digital. The key to an effective presence is think, plan, measure, and review.


  • Use your analytics to learn as much as you can about how your audience is engaging with you on social.
  • Set clear goals.
  • Test, measure, report and learn regularly with your team.


  • A six step guide to tracking social media in Google Analytics (Hootsuite)
  • Google Analytics guide to social analytics (Google)
  • How to measure social media ROI in Google Analytics (DBI)
  • How to suck at social media (Avinash Kaushik)


As a charity, you can’t avoid the potential for raising awareness or funds from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. However, over the last 18 months, organic (free!) reach on mainstream social media sites has decreased massively leaving charities with a much smaller audience base from which to gain new fans/followers. The latest stats quote a reach on Facebook of 2.6% of your audience and a 10% reach on Twitter.

Put simply, if you’ve an audience of 1,000 on each platform an average Facebook post will be seen by 26 people, each Tweet by 100. Combine that with ever-increasing amounts of ‘noise’ on social media and it doesn’t make you feel great about getting your charitable love out there

How can you improve your reach?

Outside of having the next big viral charity campaign (ice bucket challenge anyone?), the simple answer is paid advertising. Before you spend anything on paying your way to publicity, as with all marketing campaigns, the secret to success is making sure your objectives are defined and your creative execution is excellent.

Setting your objectives

Start by understanding where your audience is and how/when/why they engage with that channel - it’s no good advertising on Twitter if your audience simply isn’t there. Once you know where your audience is, decide what you want from them. Are you looking for email addresses so you can enrol them into your CRM programme, are you looking for direct action like event signup, donations, or do you simply want more likes/followers to improve the reach of any organic campaigns?

NHS Blood Donation using individual imagery

Being creative

Words alone don’t cut it as you’ll disappear into a sea of posts - use pictures or video to help get your message across. While beautifully chosen professional pictures are a great help, don’t underestimate the power of crowd-sourced images - NHS Blood and Transplant do this really well using pictures sent in from people donating blood. The key message with creative is to ensure that whatever you put out there is imaginative/engaging and tells people what you’d like them to do.

Choose your audience wisely

Audience targeting options on social media platforms allow you to be very precise about who you’d like your ad to appear in front of. Choose from simple demographic-type information, to other pages/charities they follow, to interests or hobbies. Narrowing down your audience based on the above will reduce the numbers you’re putting your ad in front of, but it will make sure you’re appearing in front of people who are potentially warm to your cause.

Twitter For Good



  • Set clear goals and make sure you know what you want people to do after they’ve seen your ad.
  • Be creative and use good images so that your ad stands out on social.
  • Don’t forget to test your ads, measure their success and learn from the process


  •  A beginner's guide to social media advertising (Hootsuite)
  • The 7 hidden factors of successful social media adverts (Buffer)
  • 5 ideas for charities thinking of using twitter ads (Technology Trust)


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