Charity presence growing faster on Facebook than Twitter

The number of people liking charities on Facebook is increasing almost twice as quickly as the number following them on Twitter.

cruk-facebook
Cancer Research UK: more than 1.3m Facebook likes

I looked at the size of social media audiences across 93 charities and found that their total Facebook audience increased by 161,826 in January, compared to an increase of 85,510 for Twitter.

There were 13 charities whose Facebook audience increased by more than 4,000 during the month, compared to just two, the National Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support, for Twitter.

Looking at individual charities, I think the most striking thing is that Cancer Research UK gained an extra 28,439 Facebook likes in January.

That is quite something, especially when you consider that their increase for a single month is bigger than the total Facebook following of some medium-sized charities.

It is also interesting that the charities with the biggest audiences for both Facebook and Twitter, Cancer Research UK and the National Trust respectively, also saw the biggest increases during January.

Increases to Twitter followers (Jan)

  1. National Trust, 10,275
  2. Macmillan, 7,595
  3. RSPB, 3,955
  4. Dog’s Trust, 3,178
  5. British Red Cross, 2,695
  6. Help for Heroes, 2,662
  7. BHF, 2,633
  8. Rethink Mental Illness, 2,555
  9. Woodland Trust, 2,305
  10. Stonewall, 2,221

Increases to Facebook likes (Jan)

  1. Cancer Research UK, 28,439
  2. RSPB, 16,388
  3. Oxfam, 8,508
  4. BHF, 7,944
  5. National Trust, 7,897
  6. Alzheimer’s Society, 6,210
  7. IFAW UK, 4,906
  8. Woodland Trust, 4,581
  9. Dog’s Trust, 4,498
  10. Stroke Association, 4,440

UPDATE: As Emerson Povey rightly pointed out on Twitter, it’s worth adding the caveat that some of the difference in the rate at which charities attract likes/followers is the extent to which they invest both staff and non-staff resources. Also, size of audience is a useful finger in the air of social media effectiveness, but having a large audience doesn’t necessarily mean you are having the biggest impact via social media.


The list of charities was based on the Charity Financials list of the top 100 fundraising charities, not including cultural institutions (eg Tate Britain and the National Gallery) or those without a significant social media presence. I also added nine extra charities that have a big social media presence. A couple of charities included in the Facebook list are not included in the Twitter list (and vice versa) because they do not have an UK-specific account . Data was recorded on 29 January, 2017 and compared to 29 December, 2016 (other than Mind, when the comparison is for 15 January, 2017).

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