Increases in Facebook and Twitter followers in March

I’ve just finished looking at how the top fundraising charities’ social media audiences changed on Facebook and Twitter during March, and the results make interesting reading.

The most obvious change is that after seeing only small growth in the previous two months, Comic Relief increased its Twitter audience by more in March (11,215) than any other charity.

Comic Relief: audience boosted by Red Nose Day

This is unsurprising, given that we’ve just had Red Nose Day. Interestingly, though, Comic Relief’s increase in followers was not so significant on Facebook, where their increase of 4,681 was not quite enough to be one of the top 10 fastest growing charities.


March was also the first month since I’ve started doing this (in January) that the National Trust didn’t have the fastest growing Twitter following.

But I doubt the news will leave them weeping into their upmarket beverages. They still came second, increasing their following by just over 10,000.

Comic Relief aside, March saw the continuing trend of the National Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support accumulating Twitter followers much more quickly than any other charities.

And while the National Trust missed out on the top spot this month, it puts it into perspective that the kind of Twitter audience increase Comic Relief got from a whole evening of primetime TV and a very visible fundraising campaign is only slightly higher than what the National Trust considers business as usual. There is, though, a big caveat on this: Comic Relief is unusual in that it has a sub-brand (Red Nose Day) with a significantly bigger social media presence than the charity itself.

The other thing that stands out about Twitter over the last month is how little things have changed. Other than Comic Relief, all 10 charities with the fastest growing followings in March were also in February’s top 10.

It’s also notable that the charities increasing their Twitter followings most quickly have already got big audiences, with just one of the 10 fastest growing having less than 239,000 followers in total.

It’s a different picture on Facebook, where six of the 10 charities with the fastest growing audiences weren’t in the top 10 last month.

But one thing that does seem to be static with Facebook is the number one spot: Cancer Research UK had the fastest growing audience for the third consequtive month. It increased its following by 13,504 in March, to add to the increase of 26,409 it saw in February.

A staggering statistic: since the start of the year Cancer UK’s Facebook audience has increased by more than 68,000. The size of that increase alone is bigger than the total Facebook audiences of some big and well-known charities.

Increases to Twitter followers (Mar)
  1. Comic Relief, 11,215
  2. National Trust, 10,007
  3. Macmillan Cancer Support, 8,094
  4. Mind, 4,304
  5. Help for Heroes, 3,107
  6. Dog’s Trust, 3,031
  7. RSPB, 2,897
  8. BHF, 2,895
  9. Cancer Research UK, 2,625
  10. Rethink Mental Illness, 2,329
Increases to Facebook likes (Mar)
  1. Cancer Research UK, 13,504
  2. WWF-UK, 10,955
  3. BHF, 10,255
  4. RSPB, 8,935
  5. Alzheimer’s Society, 8,808
  6. IFAW UK, 8,473
  7. Great Ormond Street, 8,422
  8. MSF UK, 8,370
  9. Blue Cross, 7,631
  10. NSPCC, 6,535

Of course, having a big, or fast-growing, following doesn’t necessarily mean you’re havign a big impact, and there’s much more to doing social media well than numbers of followers. The size of a charity’s audience is also likely to at least partly reflect levels of resource dedicated to social media, both staff and non-staff, and the nature of the charity. But I think it’s useful as a finger in the air.

Twitter data was recorded on 31 March and Facebook data was recorded on 1 April. Both were compared to figures on 28 February, 2017. The criteria for charities I looked at is here.

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