The lifespan of a tweet or a Facebook update is surprisingly short. Bit.ly did some telling research on the most popular social media channels based on when readers clicked an included link after a message was posted. The results are really surprising: A tweet’s half-life is only 2.8 hours. So more than half of the total clicks a tweeted link gets happen in the first 3 hours. What’s more surprising is that the life of an update in other media in nearly as short. The half-life of a Facebook update is 3.2 hours. Even email has a half-life of only 3.4 hours. So almost all the clicks you’ll get from a link in social media happen not only on the first day, but within the first 6 hours.
So how does this affect fundraising? If a fundraiser signs up for your event, emails supporters, updates on Facebook, tweets and then forgets about it, most of the donations they get will happen that first day. While this short lifespan may seem a negative, it’s really not. If you’re coordinating an event for a non-profit, you can confidently tell your participants that it’s okay to tweet again and send another email. Your participants may be under the impression that one Facebook update or one email is all they need to send for an event or campaign, or all they should do to keep from annoying their friends and family. But as you can see, that’s not at all the case. While the best practices below are useful to you, they’re even more important to stress to your supporters, since it’s their efforts that are responsible for the thousands of tweets, likes and emails that get their friends and family to donate.
9 tips for non-profits to extend the life of tweets.
- Tweet and update at key times. According to another Bit.ly study the best time to tweet an update is between noon and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. More people are on Facebook and Twitter at these times and that improves the likelihood messages will be seen. Advise your participants to take a few minutes to tweet and update at lunch. It’s easy for them and can generate more donations.
- Send email at key times. There are varying schools of thought on when to email an ask so it won’t get lost in the inbox. It’s a safe bet that noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday is also a good time for email, though some research shows that mornings about 9:30 a.m is optimal.
- Ask for retweets, comments and favorites on Twitter. While tweets may have the shortest life, they also have the potential to go viral more quickly and more intensely. Retweets, comments and favorites all help extend the life of a tweet, so encourage supporters to be up front and ask for them. We see many of our DonorDrive participants tweeting to famous people asking for retweets. A single retweet from someone with a million followers can lead to a substantial boost in donations.
- Ask for shares, comments and and likes on Facebook. Comments and likes can really draw attention to an update, especially when the friend who likes or comments has a large number of friends themselves. Facebook stats show that “likers” have 2.4 times as many friends as those who don’t like. Also, asking for a share on someone’s Timeline can mean a huge boost to visibility. If they highlight it, or pin it to the top—even better.
- Comment on comments. Threads of comments are microviral. When a supporter fuels threads with their own comments to previous comments and likes or makes a comment a favorite, they can help keep their updates alive for hours and even days.
- Encourage email forwarding We might not think of an email as being viral in nature, but through forwarding—it really is. Encourage fundraisers to ask the recipient to pass the email to their address book and it can really boost the life of the message.
- Send again. With the lifespan of social media so short, it’s completely, acceptable to send a second email the following week and even post the following day on Twitter and Facebook. As opposed to a second ask, suggest that registrants give a progress update on their fundraising success. These aren’t looked at the same way as the initial ask and they work as subtle reminders. As totals grow and goals are stated, friends and family often don’t want to be left out. Like those in an eBay mindset, they’ll want to be part of the excitement.
- Always include the URL of the donation page. This is the place supporters want to drive donors, so make sure they don’t miss the opportunity.
- Say something worth passing on. Successful social media posts usually make a bold statement, pass on a photo or link to a video. Encourage participants in your events and campaigns to put their heart into their plea.
For DonorDrive Customers
DonorDrive has all the social fundraising tools of Twitter, Facebook and email built right in. Here are some best practices to put them to best use:
- Encourage participants in events and campaigns to connect their Twitter and Facebook accounts to DonorDrive. Updates will go out automatically when they get a donation. Connecting these accounts can increase donations and awareness dramatically without the participant having to work at it. DonorDrive stats show that those who connect to Facebook raise 78% more than those who don’t.
- Encourage them to send an email when they sign up. Connecting to their address book is easy and they can send one email to their entire contact list in no time right when they sign up. Don’t forget to encourage them to add a line in the email about how helpful it would be if the recipient would forward it on.
- Push for an inspiring story on their Fundraising Page. A story that shows their passion for your cause and a touching photo or video can encourage donations, drive clicks on the Facebook Like button or motivate a tweet.
- Encourage them to visit their Fundraising Page to tweet and update on Facebook. Seeing that their goal thermometer has risen since their last visit can be the catalyst for them to send inspiring messages.