Power tweets – how a trusted endorsement can boost UK charities and SMEs

By Hilary Stephenson | 13/11/2012

We have been discussing the notion of the “power tweet”; that little nudge a celebrity or recognised authority offers in response to seemingly persistent requests for RTs for campaigns, events and causes.  We have observed a rather fierce demand and supply surrounding the more well-known members of the Twittersphere. The “PICK ME, PICK ME!!!” attitude of some “fans” doesn’t seem particularly conducive to getting a follow, let alone a RT for their cause and people are inundated with requests. Many can’t win it seems, as a quick check of their timelines suggests they start their day wading through requests, spend too much time defending their lack of response and often end with abuse from those who feel they have been ignored.

Since for celebrities tweeting is, we imagine, for pleasure, commentary and a bit of guilt-free self-promotion, we wonder why some famous users actually stick with Twitter. It begs the question then; what motivates people to perform the much heralded RT? Is it the cause itself, the tone of the request, the profile of the requestor or is it purely down to timing, availability and mood? A few projects we have been directly involved in show what happens when requests are handled in the right way, where people are clearly engaged by those seeking the plug or response. The following examples show the impact the endorsement, if a simple click of an icon can be termed that, can give.

Diversity Role Models invited Stephen to Fry their servers


Never one to shy away from a cheeky promotion, we were impressed at the following timely response from DRM, after they noticed that Stephen Fry had inadvertently crashed the servers of a new website he was asked to mention on Twitter:

Stephen Fry

For a new but growing charity, the impact of his tweet in terms of pure traffic to the DRM website was pretty clear:


What visitors do once they get there is of course another matter but as a signpost to a new charity website, this tweet certainly did the trick. As a general observation, DRM’s sharing of blogs, videos, articles and tweets as they have set up the charity, and their engagement with high profile members of Twitter, offers a pretty impressive lesson on how to use social media if you're a charity start-up.

3Hundredand65 use crowd sourcing to write a story of tweets for the Teenage Cancer Trust

We have absolutely loved the work @3hundredand65 are doing to gather support for the Teenage Cancer Trust. A simple concept, but a lot of work for the team behind the idea, the project involves one story line tweet per day. Initially, they were almost bashful in the way they sought celebrity promotion, letting the quality of the concept and creativity do the work for them and this led to a groundswell of respect for the idea, the cause and the art. They now have a clutch of well-known and highly regarded followers (including Mr Fry), who have not only said great things about the project, they have contributed directly and helped to build the attention it is now getting:

As it’s all about raising money, it’s great to see Twitter put to use in this way and even better to observe the following they now have.



Peaks and Plains generate more online and offline coverage in a day than in the last 6 months

Relatively new to the world of Twitter and admittedly cautious about its potential in their sector, Peaks and Plains Housing Trust has now fully embraced the rapid information sharing and debate that it can deliver. Their CEO tweeted Evan Davis on the Radio 4 Today programme as they were covering a housing story. Evan read it out and mentioned Peaks & Plains. He and the Today programme separately then retweeted it and Peaks and Plains were contacted immediately with numerous requests. They were asked to write a post for Open Democracy’s blog and the Guardian’s Housing blog and invited to do interviews for Radio Manchester, BBC TV News, Radio 5 Live drive time and the Manchester Evening News. Many of these posts and interviews have since been tweeted, linked, included in news consolidations, and cropped up in other places.

These are just a few examples of how charities or SMEs can generate interest in their activities and how the support of an opinion shaper, voice, authority or celebrity can help to push a message. Whatever the impetus, we suspect that the charities are forever grateful and Twitter, through its quick calls to action and powerful community building, is clearly complementing more traditional celebrity patronage as well as side-stepping previously restrictive editorial and promotional guidelines. I think we’ll save any implications that has for governance and communications policies for a separate blog!