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Anatomy of a Twitter hashtag campaign for university fundraising

Anatomy of a Twitter hashtag campaign for university fundraising

Yesterday saw an experiment to see how effective a campaign to promote giving to UK universities could be using Twitter hashtags (shared keywords).

It was initiated by Adrian Salmon, Annual Fund Manager at the University of Leeds, with some help from a few primed contacts.

Adrian Salmon Twitter posts

Adrian Salmon Twitter posts

Adrian has already pulled together statistics for the first 24 hours of the campaign.

He used the popular hashtag #charitytuesday which arose a few months ago as a way to promote one’s favourite charity or charities that Twitter users thought were worthy of being followed.

He chose a two-stage process, with two messages separated by three minutes:


About to send a #charitytuesday – do RT my next tweet! 8:17 AM Nov 17th from web

Why not give back to your UK university this #charitytuesday? Pls RT! 8:20 AM Nov 17th from web


This morning he shared the initial results.


Results after 24 hours


“We had 102 tweets of the message (including us) – the latest was this morning (from the legendary Ken Burnett) so it’s still out there! Some people re-shortened the link which I then can’t track, so that means this is a minimum retweet number.

“A couple came from Facebook messages (FB tags its own redirect URL in front of any link you paste into a FB message, so we can see that).

“Very roughly, assuming each person who tweets has a low average of 50 followers, that means we might have reached around 5,000 first-level people with the message at some stage yesterday.

“There have been 634 click throughs on the link so far which means an average of just over 6 click throughs per tweet.

“Two thirds from the UK but a third were international – US over 100, Russia 14 and then the rest as far afield as Malaysia, Japan, Slovenia (12), India, France, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden, Pakistan, Germany and Belgium.

“And then 46 from ‘other’ countries – no idea! So we definitely went international.

“The hot times for the #charitytuesday hashtag definitely appear to be between 1pm and 2pm here, and then 4pm onwards as the East Coast of the US comes on line – there were about 20 tweets a second with the hashtag coming in at both those times”.

Adrian had earlier created a blog post on Posterous explaining the campaign.


Visits to my Posterous blog page


“568 visits yesterday, 96% new visitors. An average of 1.16 pages per visit, so most people landed on the first page and then went off again.

“However, there were 166 new visitors to the list of online giving sites, who spent an average of one minute on the page. The visits were from 34 countries in all!”

Adrian then looked at any results for visits to his own University’s alumni fundraising page.


Visits to our Annual Giving pages


“They were 86% up on the day before but no gifts as yet. 13 referrals from the blog page.

“12 unique views of our credit card form and 5 of our Direct Debit page”. He commeted that only a third of these were new visitors, so he thinks that most of the visitors might have been other fundraisers and development staff exploring his website.


Other feedback


“One person left the Leeds Alumni FB group yesterday after I sent our message asking for tweets, but there is no way of knowing if that’s a direct response.

“One tweet questioned the status of universities as charities, sent to me and Howard Lake at UK Fundraising. Howard and I both responded with appropriate levels of rebuttal – he was a manager in a Student Union, no less.

“I received one cryptic comment on my blog page – to which I’ve responded positively.

“But otherwise no negative feedback I could find!


In Summary


“Fun! I enjoyed it and I hope you did.

“Good awareness raising – we got retweets and very interesting to find out where they were coming from

“Money? You tell me. Not for us yet – but your mileage may vary.

“Feedback welcome – perhaps my blog page needs rewording, although I don’t think it comes across as too sanctimonious – I hope not!”

He wondered whether he and others would do it again. “Well, probably not next week”, he said this morning. “We’re all busy folks and it did involve quite a lot of Twitter/ monitoring at my end.

“Also we might as a sector be accused of ‘hijacking’ Charity Tuesday if we did it every week. But once a month? Once every six weeks? Again, thoughts welcome. I’m not a social media guru and some of you may have more justified claims on that status.”

You can follow Adrian Salmon at


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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