Engaging with Charities on Social Media: Comparing Interaction on Facebook and Twitter

  • Christopher Phethean
  • Thanassis Tiropanis
  • Lisa Harris
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9089)


Social media are commonly assumed to provide fruitful online communities for organisations, whereby the brand and supporter-base engage in productive, two-way conversations. For charities, this provides a unique opportunity to reach an audience for a relatively low cost, yet some remain hesitant to fully embrace these services without knowing exactly what they will receive in return. This paper reports on a study that seeks to determine the extent to which these conversations occur, and compares this phenomenon on Facebook and Twitter for a sample of UK-based charities. Focus was placed on analysing conversations as signs of developing relationships, which have previously been shown to be a key target for charities on social media. The results of this study find that while there is an expected proportion of the audience who prefer to listen rather than engage, there is strong evidence of a core group of supporters on each site who repeatedly engage. Interestingly, disparities between how this occurs on Facebook and Twitter emerge, with the results suggesting that Facebook receives more conversations in response to the charities’ own posts, whereas on Twitter there is a larger observable element of unsolicited messages of people talking about the charity, which in turn produces a differing opportunity for the charity to extract value from the network. It is also found that posts containing pictures receive the highest number of responses on each site. These were a lot less common on Twitter and could therefore offer an avenue for charities to increase the frequency of responses they achieve.


Social media Charities Marketing Communication 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Phethean
    • 1
  • Thanassis Tiropanis
    • 1
  • Lisa Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Web Science InstituteUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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