I wanted to understand how different UK charities are perceived on twitter. I chose 10 charities to start with: Amnesty International, Breast Cancer Now, British Heart Foundation, Greenpeace, Mind, Oxfam, Save the Children, Stonewall, Unicef and WWF.
I carried out thematic analysis to extract 40 keywords from over 20,000 tweets either sent by the charities or tweeted about them in the last month. I also put the tweets through IBM Watson’s tone analyser to understand how emotional the tweets were. Based on keyword meanings, associations and emotional tone of the tweets they were from, I then classified the keywords into 9 themes.
Themes and Keywords
For example, “money”, “give”, “fundraise”, “donate” keywords make up the “Give” theme. The more combative “Act” theme includes keywords “stop”, “end”, “change”, “act”, “must”, “rescue”, “combat” and “defend”. And highly emotional “Joy” theme is formed from “love”, “happy”, “good”, “trust” and “amazing”.
Give, Support and Act themes are present in tweets, which tend to be more factual, corporate and less emotional, so I colour-coded them together to form “ASK” grouping. We then move to the pink group of “Hope/Belief” and “Togetherness”, which are about “ENCOURAGEMENT”, and finally the orange “CELEBRATION” group is highly emotional and includes the themes of “Achievement”, “Gratitude”, “Pride” and “Joy”. The size of the bars on the chart above reflects the number of tweets. And as you can see, half of the tweets were the un-emotional “ASK”s.
I then used correspondence analysis to map my 10 charities against the 9 themes and ACE (Ask, Celebration, Encouragement) construct they form.
The more emotional the tweets are, the closer they are to the outer circle of Encourage or Celebrate. Those focused around “Give”, “Support” or “Act” themes are within the inner circle of Ask. The charities are also placed close to a theme that tweets from and about them correspond with most. For example, Amnesty International related tweets are calling to Act but are factual and un-emotional. Stonewall related tweets also call to Act but are Joyful (54% on IBM Watson’s tone analyser). British Heart Foundation related tweets absolutely ace it with Gratitude and high-degree of Joy (70% on IBM Watson’s tone analyser), whilst not forgetting the Give (mostly, fundraising).
Wordle of tweets from or about British Heart Foundation
Emotional tone of tweets from or about British Heart Foundation
Social media is an informal medium, and being emotional and warm is key to connecting with people, and growing a supporter-base. Numerous studies show that emotional communications are much more effective than purely rational for brand building and growth.
Depending on a charity’s objective and where it wants to be positioned, it needs to follow these ACE guidelines:
- Don’t just Ask, give. Give insight and stories about topics, rather than just highlighting them and quoting statistics; give insight into the inner workings of your charity and personal stories of your team. Respond to people, retweet, strike conversations.
- Be human, rather than corporate: use human language and don’t be afraid of showing emotions. Celebrate achievements and show pride and gratitude. Or be angry, Oxfam successfully combines Anger (60% on IBM Watson’s tone analyser) and Joy (63%), whilst Sadness (52%) combined with the Encouragement of Hope works for Breast Cancer Now, when they Ask to Support them.
- Encourage people by providing hope and bring them together through shared beliefs and a sense of community.
Charities do ACE work – thank you!