Be More Social, For Less: Social Media Tips From Charities


Today, our natural instincts as social media creatures is catapulted to new tiers with the rise of social media networking. But, since the dawn of mankind, we’ve have been sociable. Our ancestors huddled around campfires gossiping, and now we hover about individually with our glittery gadgets glued to our hands where the opportunity to be social has the chance to never end. This constant advancement of social media networking provides social media marketers with endless opportunities to engage with customers, clients or potential stakeholders with little or no spend.


Already the most dominant social media platform with over 2 million users worldwide, figures monitoring social media account usage show a marked rise in the percentage of Facebook users during Q2 to Q3 2016. Proving that unlike some other social media platforms, Facebook continues to grow. For example, 67% of the Irish population and 68% of United States population is on Facebook. Regardless of whether you provide a product or service within a specific sector, it’s time to start using Facebook as your main driver for social media networking. How you separate yourself from the noise, and the ads, is what makes your zero budget campaign a success.

So, how do you get your voice heard among the loud murmurs, and shouting posts? Do you shout louder by using an expensive megaphone and hope someone hears you? Or do you speak to people on a human level with real emotion? This comes down to being smart with your tactics and choosing quality and loyalty over quantity.


Let’s get academic here for a moment and talk about the Dragonfly Effect Model. This model has four ‘wings’ or strands, which are: focus, grab attention, engage and take action.

Focus refers to the importance of one particular outcome and operational aim to make the desired change through social media.

The Grab attention strand sees that a message is framed in such a way that it is authentic and memorable, and can be distinguished by the key target audience among the constant push of messages on social media in order to engage with it. This applies to providing what will be perceived as useful information to the target audience. This should be dealt with initially in the early message framing and research stages of your campaign.

Engage campaigns should utilize the appropriate social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in reaching personal, empathic stories to stir engagement. However, it is important not to post and engage to the extent where messages appear to ‘spam’ or fill individual’s newsfeeds to prevent disengagement. Engagement should develop organic conversations tailored to the audience’s culture. This is appealing to the environment of Facebook in forming lasting relationships – rather than marketing or message pushing.

Now, you’ve focused your efforts on grabbing attention and you’re engaging – don’t lose them! What should happen next? Well, ask, demand or urge your public to take action.

Taking action enables and empowers public to express their change in knowledge, attitude, and behavior and act. The campaign, in this wing, should engage with its target audience to tell people what to do for the campaign (buy, donate, click here for more, share, like, comment or join) and foster a sense of community where peers will comply with behavior to continue a sense of belonging. Facebookers are most likely to click a ‘like’ or ‘reaction’ button – a behavior which is providing marketers with consistently more precise information about people’s likes and dislikes.


Anyone creating a social media campaign can really learn from charities. Charities have little to no budgets for social media communications, so they rely on what they do best: using emotion to drive actions from the public.

Lesson #1 Heart Over Head. Facts and figures are boring. People want stories from real people behind these statistics. Mental health charities, charities that work with children and Marriage Equality used the power of stories to win people over. This gives people the opportunity to connect with a human story and leaves a lasting impression. All of a sudden, an ask for a donation online comes from somewhere human and real, versus a faceless organization. 75% of customers are satisfied? That’s great. But let’s hear some real customers share their experience.


Social Media Marketing Tips We Can Learn From Charities with Design Wizard


Lesson #2 The One Versus The Many. In a series of experiments, it was found that people are much more responsive to charitable pleas that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary than they are to statistical information about the scale of the problem being faced. This idea of the one versus the many is common. In a more commercial sense, the idea that everybody is buying this product is too abstract for people’s cognitive power to process. But, your neighbor, your best friend, your wife, your husband or the one person down the street becomes easier to imagine.


Social Media Marketing Tips We Can Learn From Charities with Design Wizard


Lesson #3 Social Me, Social You. Another of the major takeaways from charities is that giving is fundamentally a social media activity. People give significantly more to their university if the person calling and asking for their donation is their former roommate. Just like selling a product or a service, if a friend or peer is urging people to buy or donate, people will likely take action. This is why reviews have such power, and peer recommendations are the strongest form of influence.


Social Media Marketing Tips We Can Learn From Charities with Design Wizard


Lesson #4 Monkey See, Monkey Do. Seeing others taking action makes an individual more likely to take action. Even a gentle encouragement from a prominent or close person in your life can make people take action. What can we learn from this? When you’re encouraging people to take action it will spread into their social networking where people will feel the urge to follow and take action too.


Social Media Marketing Tips We Can Learn From Charities with Design Wizard



The art of giving and using knowledge of human behavior to form lasting relationships to increase engagement for zero budget is nothing new. But, what is new is how we use this knowledge using new tools.

The digestion of video content is a great way to connect. First, there’s the basic appeal of video. People prefer visual content to written content because it’s a more basic form of interaction. Thanks to faster Internet speeds and mobile devices, it’s easier than ever to watch videos, so they’ve become even more popular as an online medium. The advent of Facebook Live has the opportunity for users to finally connect on a more human level.

Social media users love the “in the moment” feeling (as seen in the rise of Snapchat and Instagram Stories). Using images and live videos give people that exact perspective. Users can now experience emotion in real time from anywhere from the people behind the brand.

Live video is giving people the method to tell stories and broadcast their message loudly. A compelling statement at the start of any broadcast can grab the attention, and urge users to ask questions or feedback through comments allows for greater engagement. Use this captivated audience to take the action you want, and finish feeling more connected personally.

This costs you nothing, and the return will really be felt.

About the author

Daniel Waugh is the Public Relations Manager with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) delivering training and consultancy in the areas of social media, media relations, content creation, marketing, campaigns, and public policy. Daniel assists with political strategy and with political campaigning with an award-winning flair for all things digital media for national charities and campaigning groups. Daniel is always looking to collaborate, and always looking to be kept busy helping others.

PRII Overall Best PR Student of 2015 and Best Zero Budget Social Media Campaign 2016 and again in 2017 from the Social Media Awards, Daniel has run national digital campaigns with zero budgets reaching millions of people in Ireland. He is always on Twitter handling as @DanMWaugh and can easily be reached on or on LinkedIn.

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