Do you tweet?

Here’s a list of nature conservation organisations with their number of followers on Twitter.  To be fair, many of the organisations have several (many) Twitter accounts for particular sites or particular subjects, but those listed here are the ‘main’, and sometimes the only, Twitter accounts for these organisations.


@nationaltrust 144,824

@natures_voice (RSPB) 52,785

@WoodlandTrust 29,839

@wwf_uk 21,869

@Birdlife_News 17,926

@WWTworldwide 11,351

@wildlifetrusts 10,560

@mcsuk 9,925

@markavery 8,837

@_BCT_ (Bat Conservation Trust) 8,654

@savebutterflies (Butterfly Conservation) 8,204

@Buzz-dont_tweet (Buglife) 7,015

@loveplants (Plantlife) 5,081

@BASCnews 4,235

@gameandwildlife 1,800


Size isn’t everything but I know from personal experience that the more Twitter followers you have, the more people get to interact with you and your website.

I used to be a big fan of Facebook but I now rate Twitter much more highly as a means of getting a message to lots of people.

I think that the social media offer huge opportunities to smaller NGOs – if you do it right you can look like a big NGO and attract lots of followers who may turn into supporters, donors and members.  It does take time, and some effort, but building your Twitter followers is well worth the effort if you have something to say – and don’t all these organisations have something to say?

Although, I would say that the outputs of many of these Twitter accounts are pretty bland.  Have you tried them? What do you think?


23 Replies to “Do you tweet?”

  1. @_BTO has 13,183 followers on Twitter – our contribution to conservation is the provision of impartial scientific evidence and advice to inform conservation issues. Our social media presence generally is key to our aim of becoming much more accessible to many more people. If you don’t yet know us, check us out – @_BTO

  2. You might have some thing to say but who the hell listens! Take Birds of Prey. Britain is the worse place in the world for killing these amazing birds!! Fact. But the members of organisations like the BTO and RSPB do not give a dam. They would rather condemn Malta for a few incidents. So you can twitter all you like but it won’t make a difference!

  3. I know where you’re coming from, John, and I have to say there are days when I put my head in my hands in despair. And with NT leading the field I can also guess where the blandness is coming from !

    But surely its the fingers behind the buttons that are to blame ? Social media – especially through Save Our Woods was crucial in the debate over the future our national forests – and never matched since. Similarly, Buzzardgate wouldn’t have happened the way it did without social media – the Government U turned almost faster than it takes to deliver a letter by post !

    Imagine what could happen if the National Trust returned to its roots and started campaigning seriously for the environment alongside RSPB ?

  4. @DeerInitiative is a UK based charity. Mission: the achievement & maintenance of a sustainable & healthy population of wild deer in England & Wales. We have 145 followers as we are fairly new to the social media scene. We feel that is it important to create a stronger connection with our partners & the public about what we do.
    Haven’t heard of us? Look us up @DeerInitiative

  5. “don’t all these organisations have something to say?”

    Perhaps they should be judged on what they do.

    1. Filbert – indeed they should. But that does require them (or someone else) to tell us and that is where social media have a role to play.

  6. Didn’t realise you were you own organisation Mark, or are you just there for comparison purposes.

    I follow six of those, and for me the best is Butterfly Conservation, closely followed by Birdlife. I joined BC partly because I found out more about them through Twitter and they also inspired me to start moth trapping which had led to all sorts of good things. They also take the time to interact with their followers, though perhaps easier for them than others as they don’t have as many.

    For me some key individuals on twitter who can be recognised as representing organisations tend to be much more interesting to follow than the organisations themselves (accounting for own views etc…). Perhaps as it seems more personal? Eg Andre Farrar (RSPB).

    Twitter can be brilliant and powerful if used well (IDS petition anyone?), or dull and uninteresting if used badly. I think the others I follow are good but have room for improvement, and the others I don’t follow as they just don’t say anything that I find interesting.

    And if the BTO were on your list they would kick the rest into a cocked hat as for me they are probably my favourite organisation twitter feed.

    1. Mike – I’m my own disorganisation – just there for comparison.

      BTO is a very good Twitter account, I agree. Very good organisation too. Just not a conservation organisation.

      I agree that @AndreFarrar is more interesting than Natures_voice !

  7. World Land Trust has 9,252 but I am still not quite sure how these statistic influence anything. However, it may or may not be related, but the number of sign ups to Friends of WLT does seem to be correlated to growth in twitterers following. And this of course translates in to cash. Anyone else know if RSPB, WWT, FFI etc have noticed similar trends?

  8. Well I would say that I think it is a big ego trip and a load of rubbish but better keep quiet rather than upset lots of people.

  9. Thanks Mike and Mark! Of course I sit next to @Natures_Voice and I know I go off piste occasionally (and once or twice I have been @Natures_Voice for an hour or so). @Natures_Voice covers a wider canvass than I do – and has to respond to more ‘stuff’ as does any organisational account.

    key thing for me is I enjoy the conversations, insights and sometimes randomness of my 3432 followers (just saying) – but particularly the tangible love of nature that comes through. The weekend show and tell of wildlife seen and enjoyed is a feature of twitter that makes it very engaging – and makes a responsive community for calls to action.

  10. I think Mike’s comment is quite significant: there’s quite a deep seated attitude that being part of an organisation somehow raises the validity of you as a person & your views. Yes, there may the reality of wielding a budget & lots of staff as Mark did at RSPB but surely it doesn’t change the value of the thinking that much ?

    Which is, I’d suggest, quite an important point at a time when there doesn’t seem to be much original thinking going on amongst many of our conservation NGOs – the status quo + it worked before so surely it’ll work again seems to be the byword in the face of political challenge which is sidelining the environment.

    And how much does the numbers game add up to ? You can be fairly sure most of Mark’s followers aren’t there to decide which stately home to visit at the weekend.

    But I do have to say, Dennis, that I don’t actually quite understand Twitter and like, I suspect, Mark himself had a brief giggle at your excellent comment – deflation of egos is the heart of true democracy !

    1. Not quite what I was getting at and I am not sure I entirely agree. I would pay more attention to Andre Farrar than I would to Peter Andre if both were tweeting about bird conservation. There are plenty of commentators on nature conservation with a voice who don’t know what they’re talking about, and twitter is no different.

  11. Twitter can be time consuming, and the NGO’s are probably thinking that time is better spent elsewhere … after all tweeting in the workplace can be frowned upon! ;o)

    So what do they then do .. employ a full time tweeter .. could they justify that? I doubt it.

    But social media is the single most powerful tool out there now. If you can get something to go “viral” its reach can be massive, far wider than any form of the normal kind of channels such as appearing on the news, local radio etc. The other thing about twitter, when it is out there, it is out there. It can be there to stay, so people can rediscover your message time and time again. A slot on the radio or local news is five minutes and the vast majority have forgotten what you have said about 30 seconds after the program has moved on. I suspect newspapers have a much smaller impact than they did a decade ago, we have a general mistrust of them now.

    I would like to see the NGO’s do much more of the “live” tweeting stuff I have seen them do. Both Andy Clements and Andre Farrah did this recently; Andy at the Welsh Ornithological Society Conference and BTO Annual Conference, Andre at last weekends RSPB Members get together. I think this is a much better use of twitter than just tweeting links to your latest survey/ campaign/ petition, all of which are still important, but real time things will keep people following the feed and thus generating more interest in your other important work.

    The most forgotten word in social media is the word social … interact with your followers .. be “social” and I think they will be far more effective!

    (Blimey I don’t comment on here much even though I am an avid reader – but when I do I seem to speak in tongues! ;O))


  12. Nick Clegg has roughly 100K followers
    Ed Miliband has roughly 200K
    David Cameron has roughly 300K.

    Just for reference; Obama has 30M.

    I don’t know what to make of those numbers either.

    That’s twitter.

  13. Numbers aren’t everything. Jesus only started out with 12 followers, but he went on to be massive. I on the other hand have plateaued at 615.

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