Charity Twitter accounts lose thousands of followers

Last week, Twitter announced that it is no longer counting as followers accounts that have been frozen because of suspected fraud.

Some high-profile accounts lost many thousands of followers overnight. One analysis has suggested that the 100 most popular users lost about two per cent of their followers.

So I thought it would be interesting to see the impact on charities.

As luck would have it, on July 2 I looked at the number of charity Twitter followers on as part of my quarterly monitoring of how follower numbers are changing. So to see the impact of the Twitter policy change on charities, all I had to do was to repeat the exercise. I did this on July 14 (a couple of days after the new policy came into effect).

The results are really interesting – 37 of the 83 charity Twitter accounts I looked at lost more than 1,000 followers over those 12 days. Six of them lost more than 5,000.

Help for Heroes saw its audience fall by the biggest number, 9,032, while BBC Children in Need (7,146) and Comic Relief (6,613) accounted for the second and third biggest falls.

At the other end of the list, 10 of the charities had reductions of fewer than 200. And Leonard Cheshire was the only one that actually saw its Twitter following increase, by 27.

But numbers don’t give the full picture. Help for Heroes, BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief all have big Twitter followings, so you would expect them to see bigger-than-average falls in numbers.

So next I looked at the percentage fall in followers for each account.

Overall, the follower numbers fell by 1.1 per cent, which is quite a bit lowert han for the most popular Twitter accounts (though the real fall may have been marginally bigger, because most accounts are likely to have slightly increased their followings over the 12 days).

Within this average of 1.1 per cent, there is quite a big range. Seven charities saw drops of over 2 per cent, with BBC Children in Need seeing the biggest percentage fall (3 per cent).

At the other end of the list, 12 charities saw their following fall by less than 0.5 per cent (the charity I work for, Bloodwise, saw a fall of 0.7 per cent).

In a blog post like this, the usual next step is to try to explain what the data means. So why do I think some charities saw bigger falls than others?

To be honest, I haven’t a clue.

At first, I wondered if bigger, higher-profile charities might have seen the biggest percentage drops. But the National Trust, which has by far the biggest charity Twitter following, saw a drop of just 0.7 per cent, while Mind’s 0.4 per cent drop was even smaller.

Meanwhile, two charities with fewer than 100,000 followers, Scope and Christian Aid, saw drops of over two per cent.

I also tried to look for a pattern in the causes of the charities, but couldn’t see an obvious one.

So there you have it – an interesting piece of analysis but I have no idea what it means.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on what might be behind the variation?

10 charities with biggest % Twitter falls

  1. BBC Children in Need, 3%
  2. Comic Relief, 2.7%
  3. Scope, 2.6%
  4. Breast Cancer Care, 2.5%
  5. RSPCA, 2.2%
  6. Teenage Cancer Trust, 2.2%
  7. Christian Aid, 2.1%
  8. Unicef UK, 2%
  9. Diabetes UK, 2%
  10. Ummah Welfare Trust, 1.9%

10 charities with smallest % Twitter falls

  1. Leonard Cheshire, -0.2%
  2. Samaritans, 0.2%
  3. Terrence Higgins Trust, 0.3%
  4. Woodland Trust, 0.3%
  5. Art Fund, 0.4%
  6. Mind, 0.4%
  7. SSAFA, 0.4%
  8. Guide Dogs, 0.4%
  9. Plan International UK, 0.4%
  10. Arthritis Research UK, 0.5%


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