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How to maximise your Marathon comms

If your charity has places in the Virgin Money London Marathon, here are some tips on how to use email and social media to engage and inspire supporters. This should be one of the peaks in your comms calendar.

As well as your runners and their supporters, you have the potential to tell your story through social media to the thousands of people at the event or watching on TV.

Your comms should engage your runners and supporters, inspire future runners and inspire donations.

Things you'll need

  • Email
  • Social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook)
  • Video channels (YouTube, Vine)
  • Storify
  • Photos
  • Audio
  • Creativity - make your comms fun and personal
  • Energy - this is an intense time!

Celebrate your runners and supporters - before the event

Whether you have 1 runner or a team of 200, you should be taking many opportunities to support them before and after the big event.

Email should play a big part in how you connect with your runners. Regular messages of encouragement and tips as well as simple good luck or thank you emails can mean a lot when you are recovering from yet another training run in the dark or the fundraising target feels impossible. A final pep talk message may also work well, as well as a link to practical information such as directions, timings and safety information before the big day.

Social media is a great way to share a quick informal or creative message to support and celebrate your runners. Seeing a thank you from a person (rather than the organisation) or getting a reminder of how the money will help can be very motivating. Whether this is from someone within fundraising, the chief executive, a celebrity patron or a beneficiary of your charity, a message from a real person is important. Include a photo or even better some audio or a video. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Most smartphones take photos and videos of good enough quality. Here's a storify of Marathon good luck messages to give you some ideas. DiabetesUK are also brilliant at this.


Celebrate your runners and supporters - during the event

Use applications such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite to automatically send the messages you are too busy on the day to do manually. Schedule good luck messages in the days before and half an hour before the start, say thank you and well done at the end of the day and again the next morning.

Do keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day and respond to any mentions as appropriate.

Make sure you collect photos, videos, quotes, messages and stories on the day. Think about what material will work well for you later. If you can't document the event yourself, find a volunteer or colleague who can do the job for you.


Celebrate your runners and supporters - after the event

Runners want to share their moment instantly, updating your website when the dust has settled is too late. Publish photos (on Flickr or Facebook) and video (Vine or YouTube) and make a fuss about them on your website and other social media accounts as soon as possible.

Celebrate all that your runners and supporters have achieved. Share stats (how many runners, how much raised so far, what will this pay for, how many volunteers, how many smiles, how many umbrellas etc). Share stories (assuming your runners have given you permission). Share success. Storify can be a great way to tell the whole story (see this example of the BHF's London to Brighton bike ride).

All of this is a lot of work but worth it to show that you are taking care of your runners and appreciate all that they have done. Your poor runners have had to train through the rain and wind and raise money in tough times, it’s time to show them some love.


Inspire future runners

All the coverage and build-up will naturally inspire future runners. Plan how you might try to convert ‘I’ll do it one day’ runners into ’I'm signed up and I want to run for your charity’ runners.

Think about what motivates someone to do a marathon. Think about how to communicate with them to give them that final push to sign up. Also think about what might stop them signing up (usually procrastination or not knowing how). During the weekend, tweet, post to Facebook and highlight on your homepage, details of your future running events including how people can sign up to the Marathon 2015. Here's a checklist:

  • prominently promote future events
  • make it easy to sign up for other events / register interest for 2015 – can you publish a short temporary form?
  • check that your sign up forms are optimised for mobile (see this mobile checkout guide for some ideas)
  • pledge to reply to each form by the end of the week – don’t let the momentum go to waste.

Inspire donations

Use an event like this to channel extra fundraising and make it easy for people to give. Use twitter to keep your followers involved with what is happening and help them feel like they are part of it all by showing them how to donate. A smart use of #hashtags may also help attract new followers.

Shamelessly tweet your JustTextGiving details to your followers and encourage them to RT. Not everyone knows someone who is running so help your followers and supporters make a donation. If they are out and about, or watching the TV coverage while watching twitter, a quick SMS donation is the simplest thing for them to do. Make it easy for them.

  • Have a short standard TextGiving tweet which can easily be retweeted.
  • Use #hashtags to join in with the buzz and potentially connect with new supporters – #vlm / #londonmarathon
  • Send one ‘this is what we do’ tweet (eg We have XX #vlm runners raising money to help children with XX)
  • Tweet pictures of what your runners are wearing so supporters can look out for your colours. Is there anyone running in fancy dress?
  • If you have a target, share it (last year we raised XX, can we raise XX+X this year?).
  • Share stories of how the money helps.

Further information

Madeleine Sugden is a digital comms consultant. This guide is based on a madlinsudn blog post. Read the full post for screenshots and links to more examples.


Page last edited May 19, 2017 History

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