In the wake of the TweetsGiving campaign I have been thinking a lot about the factors that contributed to our success and how we can learn and take things even further. I’ve already shared some basic stats from the campaign, but I agree with Beth that numbers can’t come close to telling a complete story. Thanks for the nudge to reflect further Beth! Here’s some of my thinking at this point and a bit more data. Stacey has also reflected further and offered insight into the donation stats.
Once Stacey and I realized we were on to something we got Matt and Vince to work immediately on a site and logo without knowing exact details on what actions we would be asking people to take or the exact shape the campaign would take. I reached out to Carrie and Dave and they were psyched and really helpful in getting the exact structure of the campaign crystallized and getting that focus reflected in the site content. The whole team did a lot of reaching out to spead the word a bit in advance. I spoke with Beth, Deborah, Joe, Tom, and Tamar who each had some ideas and agreed to tweet about it. On Tuesday we set a ChipIn Widget live for donations and settled in to wait until noon to ping our networks and release our idea to the wild.
Then a funny thing happened. Chris Brogan tweeted a link to the site. He likely found it in his ego feed since his name is on the site in the story section because of the inspiration we got from his TrickOrTweet Halloween campaign. I was on the phone with Dave when he saw Chris’s tweet and we all got really excited. “Everybody go now!”
Just like that Tweetsgiving was on. Tweets, donations, and blog posts came rolling in. We hit $1,500 in the first 2 hours. It was tough for the 4 of us to stay responsive between twitter, the gmail account we had set up, and keeping the site up to date with new Top Turkeys and blog posts. From the numbers alone we felt it was a resounding success and we’ve come away energized and grateful to the twitter community.
Factors Contributing to Tweetsgiving’s Success
Clarity and simplicity were key to this. We were asking for something very simple – share your gratitude and give a brick ($10). This nugget was easily remashed and retweeted making it attractive for people to express themselves creatively and feel like they were part of something larger. Tweets like “have you given your brick yet?” “just donated X dollars to #tweetsgiving” became pretty common and we started to retweet some of the inspiring and unique ones from the account.
The tie in of gratitude and giving to the Thanksgiving holiday was a natural sell. In the days leading up to the holiday and our campaign we noticed that people were already using twitter to reflect outloud about the blessings in their lives. Gratitude was already at the forefront and themes like health, education, wealth, jobs, and family were prompting people to share. Tweetsgiving tapped into that, encouraged it by making that reflection a communal activity, and presented donation to a worthy cause as a relevant action.
Having read Nancy Schwartz’s nonprofit tagline report (so worthwhile- thanks Nancy!) I insisted that we be super thoughtful about our tagline to cement the connection further and we came up with “Put the giving back in Thanksgiving.”
Our timing also helped us to avoid the issue of Donor fatigue which is always something to be concerned about in social giving campaigns. I think we stayed on the right side of this for a few reasons.
- it was only 2 days and people had that expectation we’d quiet down soon
- it was during a time that I suspect is quieter on twitter generally since a lot of people who normally tweet from work are traveling already
Integration with Twitter
Tweetsgiving was very rooted within twitter itself and I think that definitely was important to the campaign’s success.
In all there were 9,456 visits from 7,563 unique visitors resulting in 15,830 total pageviews. Here’s a basic breakdown of where that traffic came from including the five biggest traffic sources to the site.
twitter.com (referral) 3,700 39.13%
(direct) ((none)) 2,993 31.65%
search (organic) 608 6.43%
facebook.com (referral) 378 4.00%
google.com (referral) 172 1.82%
StumbleUpon only got us 169 visits and the combined traffic from Facebook and StumbleUpon accounted for less than 6% of total traffic. That surprises me and I think it’s worth considering whether including those social buttons on the site actually detracted from the twitter focus of the site and diluted our main calls to action (share gratitude and give).
In rough terms our traffic was
40% from twitter + 30% direct visits + 9% search + 6% Facebook and StumbleUpon = 85% of all visits
This means that only 15% of visits came from blog posts and articles. The press we received was so valuable to Epic Change and continues to benefit the organization, but in terms of raw traffic, it looks like word of mouth and twitter mentions were the main drivers. I also suspect that a large percentage of direct visits were from repeat visitors checking up on the site again, though I have to look into the analytics further to confirm that.
Individuals tweeting gratitude, sharing the link, and talking about our progress played a huge role. We did some outreach in advance, but largely I found that the individuals who went all out to champion the campaign emerged from the crowd organically. We recognized some of them as Top Tweeters, but eventually we fell behind in listing them there. Mari Smith, Tori, and Brian Colman stand out in my mind. We considered giving some of them the password to the tweetsgiving twitter account itself, but decided that it was more authentic for people to share their enthusiasm as their own non-turkey selves.
Another aspect that played into the financial success of the campaign was the recognition we gave to our Top Turkeys who donated $100. Peter Kim has some thoughts on the value of ego traps like this and we had considered that thinking in advance. The On The Wires section showcasing blog press also incentivized people to share the story with audiences in other forums.
Wish List for the Future and Things to Consider and Improve
I am very pleased with the way Tweetsgiving turned out. Though we set the goal for $10,000, it was an experiment that Stacey and I would have been proud of and considered a success even if we raised less money. We also felt strongly that the amount of reflection and gratitude we inspired people to share would be central to success as well, though we didn’t set a specific target for a number of gratitude tweets.
If we had thought of the idea a month before the holiday I am positive there are things we would have done differently and better. But with only six days, many ideas didn’t get implemented in time.
I would have liked to have a live aggregation of gratitude tweets on the site similar to the implementation on votereport (Alison Fine and Andy Carvin I’m looking at you! How did you do that and can we talk?) We did link to the twitter search results on the site, but I strongly suspect that if people knew their tweets would be displayed immediately on the sight it would encourage even more people to share thoughtful gratitude tweets and retweet. It’s already in the works, though Matt and I would love to talk to anyone who has suggestions on this implementation for the future.
We did have the Tweetsgiving account set up with Tweetlater to autofollow those who followed us. Interestingly we did get one complaint from someone who followed us and didn’t like being auto-followed back. I also wonder if there was more potential there. For example, I used the Tweetsgiving twitter account to follow people speaking about thanksgiving who I found with twitter search. I noticed many of these people tweeting that they had donated and some direct messaged us to thank us for connecting with them. These people were easily convinced to explore the site and learn more. I did try to set up Twollow to automate this process, but found that it didn’t function properly.
There is definitely the potential to use search keywords to identify twitter users to whom your campaign is relevant. Since manual twitter search isn’t easily scalable, I expect this kind of automation to be taken further in future campaigns. What are your thoughts on automation? I wonder if auto following with keywords the way twollow is intended to work removes the connection from the human level too much in a large campaign. I’d love your feedback on that. Good idea, or creepy?
Especially after seeing the effect of the Top Turkeys, in the future I’d like to recognize all donors by name, twitter name, and amount given. There could be an opt-out option in the donation form for people who want to give anonymously. I’m curious to see the effect that would have on the size and number of donations as people identify a social norm in the level of giving and possibly try to one up each other.
Recognition for all donors has the advantage of enabling enthusiasts to tweet thanks to all recent donors not just Top Turkeys since they’d be able to see all donations coming in. Inspired by the recognition Peter Deitz is giving donors to his $20,09 campaign for Social Actions (Help them out! – they are seriously awesome over there) Stacey has added a donors page to the site recognizing everyone who gave. We’re happy to take your name down if you’d rather not be listed. I would have liked that information to be automated for immediate display upon donation and possibly a few different giving levels with explanation of what change you will be making possible with each new level of giving.
While Epic Change did get a lot of new donors through the campaign in hindsight I realize that we should have collected more information about them while we had their attention at the donation stage. The advantage of the ChipIn widget was the graphical display of progress and the fact that it was fast to implement. Similar campaigns should definitely invest time to thinking carefully on this. Craft a clear well flowing form that collects essential information, but isn’t so long people tune out.
For Tweetsgiving I’d have liked to collect name, twitter username, url, email, address, recopied gratitude tweet if the donation was $10 or more, what you want displayed in the Top Turkey section as your name if you are giving $100 or more, and a checkbox for Epic Change newsletter subscription.
In the future in a campaign like this I would gather a swarm of committed people to organize and brainstorm together in advance. This group could reflect together on who they each knew individually to ask directly to donate, share gratitude, retweet, blog and offer feedback. I’d set up a google doc where this group could share ideas and a list of people to reach out to. I’d have a conference call to build team rapport and plan a second call in advance for the first night of the campaign that would be open to the public.
Connecting voices to twitter names and avatars goes a long way to building teamwork and can lend a valuable grassroots feeling to any social campaign.
One issue I’ve found trying to analyze the way the word spread is that search.twitter.com only lets you go back 100 pages (anyone know a way to dig further there?) I have an RSS feed from the whole campaign of “#tweetsgiving” but I know many tweets didn’t include the # and that doesn’t encompass all the ways the message changed- alternate links people used and phrases that caught on and were retweeted.
Stacey has a post up with her reflections and some details about donations. Most notable is the fact that all but six gifts to Tweetsgiving were new donors. The median gift size was $10 and over half the money came from Top Turkeys who gave $100 or more. Be sure to check out her more detailed breakdown.
What’s Your Take?
For me this thinking raised more questions than closure. I think this is just the start and we can all expect to see twitter and other social networks used for social causes more frequently and on a larger scale in the future. Several people have already reached out to us to collaborate and brainstorm with them about their plans. That’s great!
What does this all jar for you? What’s the biggest question in your mind now? What else was central in your mind to Tweetsgiving’s success and what avenues remain to be explored to take things further and improve? Please share and dissect with us so we can learn together!