A charity or social change group can be defined as an organisation or group that is not for profit, has a charitable purpose and/or is for the public’s benefit (Bennet 2008: 162). In a highly competitive and saturated market these groups face multiple challenges in the twenty first century (Bennet 2008: 163). Specifically, the main challenges they face include raising funds, engaging with the public and lobbying the government (Jenkinson 2005: 79). In order to overcome these challenges, charities and social change groups need to have effective external communication and social influence (Jenkinson 2005: 79). However these groups are extremely diverse and different groups are better equipped to face these challenges than others (Bennet 2008: 163). In this report I will be evaluating the social influence and public engagement challenges facing small charities and social change groups. In particular I will be discussing how the social media tool Bottlenose can be utilized by these groups to enhance their public engagement and social influence.
1.1 How small charities and social change groups differ from their larger counterparts
Charities and social change groups are extremely diverse and preform many different roles for their communities or interest groups (Jenkinson 2005: 79). They cover a broad spectrum of interests including, health, spirituality, human rights and animal welfare (Bennet 2008: 161). They can be international, national, regional or local based groups (Bennet 2008: 163). According to the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission Act 2012, a small charity or group is one that makes less than $250 000 annually. A large charity on the other hand is classified as one that will make $1 million or more annually (ACNPC 2012). In this report I will be focusing specifically on small charities and social change groups because the challenges they face with regards to social influence and public engagement are often exacerbated by a lack of funding (Bennett 2008: 161).
1.2 Importance of social media in enhancing social influence and public engagement
It is clear that there is an uneven playing field in the not for profit sector with regards to available funds. Large charities such as World Vision are able to engage with the public through expensive advertising campaigns. In recent years however social media has started to level the playing field. When utilized strategically it has the potential to reach mass audiences without overt expenditure (Walaski 2013: 41).The Rise of Digital Influence by Brian Solis outlines strategies for digital influence that can influence the actions of consumers much more authentically than traditional marketing avenues. In particular, his research demonstrated how social media platforms can greatly enhance an organisation’s performance, consequently it is critical that organisations utilize a social media platform within their marketing strategy. This is further articulated by Josh Catone in #10 Ways to Support Charity through Social Media. In this article he discusses the different strategies that are currently being used by charities to enhance their social media influence and reach. Some of the strategies outlined in this article include blogging, embedding widgets and using social media platforms to recruit volunteers. Importantly all of these strategies are free and do not impose on the Charity’s already small marketing budget.
Research into the potential for social media to enhance external communication for small charities is undertaken by Rich Crosby in Social Media and Charities. In particular he analyses the shift from traditional marketing strategies to ones that include social media. His research highlights the potential a social media platform has for organisations and again it emphasises the need for organisations to effectively use social media to enhance their social influence and public engagement. Nora Barnes who conducted a study at the University of Massachusetts entitled Social media usage now ubiquitous among US top charities, ahead of all other sectors compared the organisational adoption of social media in 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010 by the 200 largest charities in the United States of America. Her findings were that social media usage has dramatically risen and that charities more than any other group have begun to develop working strategies to include social media as part of their media platform. Her findings also found that one of the main reasons for charities being the fastest group to adopt social media as apart of their marketing strategy was cost effectiveness. Cost effectiveness is critical for small charities and social change groups due to their limited marketing budgets, consequently it is critical that these groups in particular develop campaigns based around social media platforms.
1.3 How social media tools enhance social media use
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved to become worldwide communication platforms (Hunter 2010: 26). The technology inherent in social media sites has created new opportunities for marketing (Rodiquez 2010: 360). Businesses and organisations can now engage in two way conversations with consumers, reach a wide audience without mass expenditure and communicate key messages immediately (Topper 2010: 100). However the sheer amount of information generated by social media sites is exhausting. How to make sense of the seemingly infinite amount of tweets, posts and micro blogs can be overwhelming without utilizing a social media tool (Evans 2010: 20) . These tools have been designed specifically to help make sense of the social media sites that already exist. Some tools aggregate information, others measures sentiment and whilst still more provide statistics on gender, age and public influence (King 2011). These tools have become an integral part of the social media ecosystem and provide fantastic insight for organisations seeking to analyse their social media influence. 22 Hot New Social Media Tools by Cindy King provides a sample of some of the more popular social media tools being used. However there are hundreds of alternative tools that vary in degrees of usefulness. Subsequently it is important for an organisation to select the appropriate tool for the tasks they wish to accomplish.
1.4 Distinction between information provided by a single site such as Facebook and information provided by a multi-platform tool.
The majority of small social change and charitable groups rely on the metrics and information provided to them by the same site they are using as part of their social media platform (Levinson 2012: 19). However the information and metrics provided by sites such as Facebook and Twitter do not allow for an indepth overview of all the information needed to develop a beneficial social influence strategy (Levingson 2010: 19). Facebook simply provides a graph that shows activity on a groups page over time and the number of likes. What it doesn’t provide is sentiment analysis, links to hashtags relating to the organisation, an overview of current links relating to the organisation or any other form of concrete metrics that would be highly useful in particular to a small charity or social change group. Figure 1 illustrates the type of simple metrics provided by Facebook.
1.5 How to select an appropriate social media tool for a small charitable organisation
Small charities and social change groups in particular need to select a social media tool that will allow them to gather organised concrete metrics and information data in a short period of time. This is because most small charities and social change groups have only one or two people working in their marketing department (Levinson 2012: 25). Consequently these overstretched staff require a tool that can quickly and succinctly provide usable and concrete metrics/information. Small charities and social change groups also require a social media tool that is either free or extremely cheap. This is because these organisations can simply not afford a large marketing budget, which is why they rely so heavily on social media to spread their influence, reach and resonance. By utilizing a tool that is both free and efficient in its deliverance of concrete metrics and information, a small charity or social change group can greatly enhance their influence and external communication.
1.6 Example of effective use of a social media tool by a small charity
HeartKids QLD is a small charity that seeks to raise awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD). Whilst undertaking a three month internship with the organisation I was given the task to develop a Facebook strategy that would increase activity on their page. In particular the goal was to influence users to share HeartKids QLD’s messages and photos. The organisation’s marketing department consisted of two overstretched staff and one intern. However by utilizing the social media tool Bottlenose I was able to very quickly aggregate the mass amount of information produced by social media sites to develop an effective strategy.
Bottlenose allowed me to quickly understand what was topical with regards to cogenital heart disease, what trending photos related to the organisation and what trending hashtags were linked to HeartKids QLD. After gathering this information I took away three important points.
1. The main demographic of people talking about CHD on social media sites were middle aged women.
2. That images of small children showing their scars was very provocative and had been well utilized by international CHD charities
3. The majority of Facebook posts relating to CHD were posted by mothers talking about their own child.
From these three pieces of information I was able to develop an effective Facebook strategy that saw a 30% increase in activity on their Facebook page over the month of February. This strategy was simple. A post was sent out asking families to send a picture and small caption of their child in hospital or in recovery. Then for each day of the next month one child was given a special profile. Mothers already talking about their own child became much more active. They began sharing the HeartKids QLD page with relatives and friends on the day their child was profiled. It also saw them commenting on other children’s recoveries and the provocative images of babies and small children with large scares saw an unprecedented amount of likes and shares. Figure 2 illustrates this. This particular child profile saw an an unprecedented 406 likes, 20 shares and 19 comments. Consequently it is clear that by utilizing a social media tool such as Bottlenose it is possible to enormously increase a small organisation’s social media influence.
2.0 Unpacking Bottlenose
Some examples of the key benefits of Bottlenose are:
- The live visualization of conversation and activity around a topic
- Its ability to search and engage across all the major social networks at once
- The way it allows users to discover trending topics, links, photos, videos, messages and people
- It presents users with deep analytics and insights about their brand and community (Bottlenose 2012).
Bottlenose: Diving Deep into the Social Web by John Verity discusses Nova Spivack’s long term vision for Bottlenose and outlines its main goals and objectives which include becoming the new Google of the social media ecosystem. This is because of Bottlenose’s ability to instantly search for and curate information found in the social media ecosystem. Kevin Jorgensen ranks Bottlenose as being one of the top five social media tools used to aggregate social media metrics in 5 New Ways to Real-Time Content Curation in 10 Minutes a Day. This demonstrates Bottlenose’s popularity among social media experts. Nichols Deleon goes into more detail in Bottlenose App Organizes and Sorts Real-Time Web Chaos . He does this by providing a short introduction video to Bottlenose as well as discussing how it has evolved over time and what it now enables users to do. This is a good resource for first time users of Bottlenose as it provides a short tutorial on how to use it. Combine Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln & Google Reader to Make Sense of Real Time News highlights six key features of Bottlenose and argues that whilst overwhelming at first, Bottlenose is an extremely useful and effective social media tool. However, whilst extremely useful, Bottlenose does have some constraints. Lindsay Blakey provides a useful summary in Can this Start-Up Eliminate Social Media Overload?. In this article she discusses some of the affordances and constraints of Bottlenose as well as looks at the company’s history and future. It is important that first time users understand these affordances and constraints before utilizing Bottlenose in their social media campaign as a different tool may be more useful for what they want to achievve. Finally Bottlenose: A Smarter Way to Surf the Stream by Anna Compton is a report by a communications student from the University of Queensland that details the many different features of Bottlenose and analyses how it can be used by media professionals to enhance performance. It is important to understand how different groups utilize Bottlenose as it shows the adaptability of Bottlenose.
2.1 Using Bottlenose for a social media campaign
Unlike its previous version, Bottlenose now requires users to create an account and sign in before using its search engine. Users then have to link a minimum of one Twitter page to Bottlenose in order to begin. Because small charities and social change groups have limited marketing budgets, it is important that they use the Bottlenose Lite Version as this is the free verison . For a detailed tutorial on how to use the basic features of Bottlenose read this online tutorial.
To begin using Bottlenose for a social media campaign you must first determine the key words related to your organisation. This is to ensure that you gather widest amount of information associated with your group.For the purpose of this demonstration I will be using Bottlenose to aggregate information for HeartKids Queensland. Consequently I will be typing into the search engine different key words relating to this topic to ensure I get the best results. So for example I will be searching for HeartKids Queensland, Heart Angels, Congenital Heart Disease, Heart Disease, Childhood Heart Disease and CHD. By using all these terms separately I am enabling myself to get the broadest amount of information possible. Consequently it is important that the user tries several key phrases that relate to their campaign when beginning to use Bottlenose. Searching for ‘Heart Disease’ is illustrated by Figure 3.
2.1.1 Knowledge of what images are associated with your campaign for targeting.
After searching for your topic Bottlenose gives you five different options on how to view the information generated. These options are demonstrated by Figure 4. One of the most critical tasks for a social media campaign is knowing what images are currently being associated with your campaign, which are the most popular and how they have been utilized by others. This is an important task because it allows you to develop a strategy for what images to use within your own campaign. By viewing current pictures that are popular, the user is able to use similar popular images in their campaign to generate more interest on their Facebook or Twitter page. It has been proven that staying topical affords campaigns a greater reach, resonance and influence (Solis 2012: 21). An example of this is when I typed Childhood Heart Disease into Bottlenose and the most popular images were ones of babies with large scars. By using similar images on the HeartKids QLD Facebook page there was an increase of people liking, sharing and commenting on that page. The most important thing about Bottlenose is that it gives you pictures in real time, meaning that the user who checks Bottlenose frequently will get fresh insight into the changing trends. An example of this is when I typed in Heart Disease a month later and found images of healthy food. This told me that the trend had shifted to look at childhood heart disease from a healthy eating point of view. This would then tell the user to begin using healthy food images in their own campaign in order to generate maximum impact by staying topical. This is illustrated by Figure 4.
By selecting the ‘Images’ Tab as shown in Figure 4, you are able to immediately see the trending or the most recent images relating to your search topic. From Figure 4 you can also see that pictures relating to different food types (healthy and unhealthy) and doctors are the most topical and recent picture relating to heart disease. From here a social media campaigner could utilize similar healthy or unhealthy food images within their Facebook campaign to stay topical and in line with current trends.
2.1.2 Knowing what is topical for targeting audiences
Knowing what is topical is critical for developing a social media campaign that targets audiences. This is critical because when you develop a social media campaign it is important that you are topical as this will generate more interest from your audience (Solis 2012: 20). By selecting the Now tab on Bottlenose the user is immediately given a live list of trending information. The ‘Now’ feature is shown below in Figure 5.
Perhaps the most important feature of the ‘Now’ option is the list of trending people relating to the user’s search topic. This is illustrated by Figure 6.
This is because when developing a social media campaign it is critical that you know who the most influential people on social media are in relation to your search topic (Evans 2012: 21). From this concrete data the user can develop a Facebook or Twitter campaign that targets these influential users and/or utilizes the same strategy’s they have used to become influential in this field. You can also retweet them to try and attract members from their large audience. You can do this because Bottlenose provides direct links to these people’s social media accounts. This saves alot of time and can provide inspiration for potential social media campaigns.
The second most useful feature of the ‘Now’ option in relation to this task is the trending topics section. This allows the user to see trending hashtags that relate directly to your search topic and allows someone developing a social media campaign to explore these hashtags in order to find more resources, influential people and data that relates to their campaign.This saves valuable time as it gives an immediate list of phrases that are trending, users can even implement these terms into their campaign to gather more followers and enhance their social media influence. These options are illustrated by Figure 7.
The next most useful feature in the now section is the Top Links Now Section illustrated in Figure 8. This section gives you the option to view a list of trending article links that have been posted through social media. In the top left corner of Figure 78. you can see how you can view a list based on either popularity (trending) or recentness. This is a useful feature because it allows you to curate the news features in a way that is most useful to you.
For a clearer picture of the top trending news links you can click on the ‘paper’ tab which is shown in Figure 9. This allows you to easily view the top news features related to your topic that are found on social media. It also allows you to view who posted them and what time and date they were posted. This allows the user to determine what are the most trending and recent links in the news that relate to their topic of interest, who is posting them and how frequently they are being posted. From here a user could either incorporate these stories directly or include stories of a similar nature into their campaign eg. child obesity being linked to heart disease. This would allow them to remain topical and potentially reach a wider audience. Figure 9 shows the innovative layout of the ‘paper’ option.
The next most useful section of Bottlenose with regards to knowing what is topical for targeting audiences is the ‘Stream’ tab. This provides a live stream of information posted on social media sites relating to your topic. Again you can sort this information by trending and recentness. You are also able to click on a particular comment of interest and can immediately retweet the comment, find out information about the poster and visit their social media account. You can see the stream section demonstrated in Figure 10.
2.1.3 Knowledge of how your campaign or topic of interest relates to other trending topics
This is a critical task to undertake because by discovering how your topic or campaign relates to others, it makes you aware of other potential audiences you could reach (Evans 2012: 22). The most useful way to view this information is via the ‘sonar’ tab. This unique feature of Bottlenose allows you to view how your topic relates to others through an interactive sonar map. You can see an example of this Illustrated in Figure 11.
This allows the user to clearly see what hashtags are topical in association with their campaign. This is important because users who incorporate these hashtags into their social media strategy will have much a greater chance of reaching a wider audience. It is critical that campaigners exploit this feature to ensure that they don’t miss any potential demographics when they are developing their social media campaign strategy. There are more advanced aspects of the sonar tab such as sentiment analysis – however knowledge of topical hashtags is the most crucial element of sonar for small charities and social change groups.
2.2 Constraints of Bottlenose
(a) Generic Constraints
2. The newer updated version of Bottlenose can only be accessed by users who already have social media accounts. This means that potential users need to create at least a Twitter page or they will not be able to use it.
3. The complexity of Bottlenose in comparison to other social media tools constrains users who are not tech or social media savvy. The updated version of Bottlenose has yet to release an updated tutorial on its use which further constrains users who are not technologically savvy.
(b) Social Campaign Constraints
1. Bottlenose operates in real time which makes it extremely difficult to see a long term picture of a particular trending topic unless you are monitoring the site everyday.
2. If a topic is not trending Bottlenose is not able to produce any results. For example whilst undertaking my HeartKids QLD internship there was a massive amount of information trending on congenital heart disease. This was because I was using Bottlenose throughout their awareness month. One month later there was not enough data being posted on social media about CHD for Bottlenose to provide me with any results. This is demonstrated by Figure 12.
2.3 Summary of Bottlenose’s value to small charities and small social change groups
When utilized correctly, Bottlenose is an excellent tool to use when developing a social media campaign. It allows the user to gather concrete metrics and information in a matter of seconds and organises this information for the user.The above features and what they enable users to do with regards to their social media campaign are all available in Bottlenose’s ‘Lite Version”. This means that a small understaffed charity or social change group with a small budget can gather all this information for free. Due to the fact that the main challenges facing these groups are public engagement and social influence, it is critical that they utilize a tool like Bottlenose to develop social media campaign strategies that will allow them to level the playing field with larger and wealthier groups and charities.
3.0 Introducing Electronic Frontiers Australia
Since its inception in 1994, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has endeavored to protect digital freedom and rights as well as to educate the public about the social, political and civil liberties involved with digital freedom (Electronic Frontiers Australia 2013). It is a small, not for profit organisation that seeks to raise awareness about digital rights. EFA utilizes both their Twitter and Facebook pages as part of their campaign strategy. Using social media is critical for Electronic Frontiers Australia. This is because they have a limited budget and a small marketing staff. Subsequently the use of social media provides them with a free and easy way to potentially reach mass audiences. They are funded entirely by membership subscriptions and donations, consequently it is important that they have a wide social influence and reach. As of the 28th of May 2013 they have 2, 120 likes on their main Facebook page and 5, 357 followers on Twitter. Observing these numbers over the past few months, it is evident that these numbers are steadily growing. Their Facebook cover page can be seen in Figure 13. However the metrics and information data provided by Twitter and Facebook is one dimensional and does not give EFA an in-depth overview of the trends on social media that they could incorporate into their own campaign. In the following sections I will be describing how Electronic Frontiers Australia could utilize Bottlenose to enhance their social influence and public engagement.
3.1 How Electronic Frontiers could use Bottlenose to improve their social media influence
As outlined previously in this online report, Bottlenose is a useful tool for small social change groups such as EFA. Its many different features enables users to quickly curate and aggregate the massive flow of information that is constantly being produced on social media sites. It is time efficient, provides concrete metrics and is free. Therefore it is an excellent tool for EFA to incorporate into their social media strategy. I will now discuss how Bottlenose will enable EFA to perform the three tasks discussed earlier in this report. These are knowing what images are trending, knowing what is topical for targeting audiences and knowing what hashtags are associated with your topic. With regards to EFA in this analysis I will be using the pharse ‘Digital Freedom’ to search Bottlenose. This is because digital freedom is one of the primary goals of EFA and consequently is important to their social media strategy. However EFA can easily substitute this phrase for any relevant topic associated to their campaign. Currently one of the major challenges facing EFA on their Facebook page is how to encourage users to be more active on their page. Having closely monitored the EFA page over the past few months I have noticed that whilst large numbers of people had seen a post, very few had commented , liked or shared them. This is a problem for EFA as having more people participate on your Facebook page, generates more interest and a wider audience. An example of this is illustrated by figure 14.
As you can see from these images, a large number of people on EFA have seen posts, but very few have actually participated. EFA also has no way of knowing if people have even read these posts, consequently it is critical that they post topical photos, links and hashtags to ensure that greater interest is generated in their followers. By having followers who are more engaged, EFA will be able to extend its influence, reach and public engagement. By having followers, comment, like and share posts, EFA would be seen by these people’s friends in the newsfeed. It would also assist them in becoming more trending as more people would be talking about them. As an advocacy group, EFA needs to ensure that people are reading the links they post, otherwise it defeats the purpose of them having a social media account to begin with.
3.1.1 Knowledge of Trending Images for Electronic Frontiers Australia
EFA incorporates images and news articles into their Facebook and Twitter campaigns. Therefore it is important that they stay in tune with what images are currently trending throughout the social media sphere. In particular they need to be able to easily identify the most popular images associated with EFA, digitial freedom, online privacy and digital rights. By using the images tab feature of Bottlenose, EFA will immediately get a current update on what these images are, who have posted them and how popular they are. Images currently associated with EFA change on a regular basis, so it is important that they are checked frequently.
3.1.2 Knowing what is topical for targeting audiences
For EFA knowing what is topical is critical for developing a social media campaign that targets audiences. This is critical because EFA needs to be able to stay topical with what is trending in order to reach a wider audience and to engage more with their current audience. The Now tab on Bottlenose would allow EFA to immediately be given a list of concrete data on what is trending throughout the social media ecosystem. One of the most important features for EFA is the Trending People list. This is because it allows them to instantly recognise who the most influential people associated with their interests are. These trending people are illustrated by Figure 16. EFA could then include these people in hashtags for targetimg, look at the social media strategies used by these people that made them so successful and incorporate similar strategies into their own campaigns. However it is important to note that these people change regularly and consequently it is important to monitor Bottlenose weekly to ensure that EFA stays in tune with what is trending.
EFA posts lots of links relating to digital rights. Consequently it is critical that they know what links are trending and are the most popular. By using these more popular links and articles they will be able to not only reach a wider audience but also be able to evoke more participation from their audience who are already engaged with these articles. EFA can do this via the top links now section or by the paper tab. Figure 17 illustrates the top links now section.
The next section most pertinent to EFA is the Stream section. From the information provided from this section it is possible to manually search through current posts to see what demographics are posting about what topics. Altough this is time consuming it can lead to very rewarding results as I discovered whilst undertaking my internship with HeartKids QLD. Figure 18 shows the stream section.
By clicking on the individual posts seen in the live stream you can immediately see who posted them, their profile picture, and their twitter or FB introduction. From here it simply a matter on clicking on all the individuals to see who makes up the largest demographic. For HeartKids it was stay at home mums and doctors. For Digital Rights it was mainly professional people. Figure 20 illustrates the information you get about each person, you are also given a direct link to their social media page.
This is critical because by specifically targeting the demographic who are currently posting about a topic associated with EFA, it is possible to have a greater social influence over them. Whilst monitoring EFA over a period of time, I was able to clearly see that a younger demographic was more engaged with topics such as Skype, Social Media and Gen Y articles than they were with policy making and government decisions. I was able to see this by typing in Skype to Bottlenose and then manually going through and seeing who were posting about it, I did the same thing for Australian Government Policies and saw an older demographic posting about them. This is demonstrated by Figures 20 where one of hundreds of young people talking about Skype is featured. Rather than posting a long list of these individuals I would recommend that you visit Bottlenose to try this easy experiment for yourselves.
3.1.3 Konwledge of trending hashtags associated with EFA
Another useful feature of Bottlenose is the trending topics section illustrated by Figure 21. This is because it allows EFA to see what trending hashtags relate directly to their search topic. By incorporating these hashtags EFA would have the potential to reach a much wider audience. It also allows EFA to stay topical with what is influencing their current audience. It is important that EFA uses these trending hashtags to target a wider audience.
For a more comprehensive look at how these hashtags interrelate with one another, I would recommend that EFA utilzie the Sonar feature of Bottlenose. This would allow them to clearly see how closely linked these hashtags are. This is important because it gives a live visual representation of hashtags cirucalting social media. This is demonstrated by Figure 22.
4.0 Summary and Recommendations
From this report it is clear that small charities and social change groups are at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing their organization. Many of these groups use social media as a free way to reach a large audience, however they often still fail to be noticed amidst the large swarm of other social media users. Consequently it is paramount that they can time efficiently and freely gather concrete data and metrics that will assist them in developing effective social media campaign strategies that will increase their social influence and public engagement. Bottlenose can assist in this through its ‘now’ time aggregation processes. This allows users of Bottlenose to quickly and freely gather concrete data that they can use to perform campaign tasks such as knowing what is topical for targeting audiences. Whilst Bottlenose has some constraints, it is still a highly useful tool to be used by small charities and social change groups. I would recommend that EFA look to Bottlenose as a tool to help them develop strategies that will improve particiaption on there social media pages.
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