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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

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The secrets of Wikipedia unveiled

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The latest Be Good Be Social in Edinburgh heard how charities can use Wikimedia to help promote their cause

Charities should never attempt to create their own Wikipedia pages but instead encourage their supporters to update information about them.

This was the message that Museums Galleries Scotland’s Wikimedian in residence Sara Thomas gave to charity communications professionals at the recent Be Good Be Social event in Edinburgh.

Thomas explained how the world’s biggest online encyclopedia can, however, help to boost the profiles of their organisations and their causes by sharing data through Wikimedia commons.

In September last year, for example, Cancer Research UK uploaded 500 body diagrams to the site, which has generated 10.3 million views so far.

“Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a marketing tool. So avoid conflict of interest: don't write about your friends, family, or employers,” said Thomas.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a marketing tool. So avoid conflict of interest: don't write about your friends, family, or employers

Thomas was just one of a series of speakers highlighting good practise in the third sector in relation to social media at Be Good Be Social, run by Third Sector Labs.

Laura Dunlop, from International Network of Street Newspapers (INSP), highlighted how the umbrella body for street newspapers, such as the Big Issue, around the world raised its profile through the awareness raising week with the hashtag #vendorsweek.

The campaign saw celebrities, such as members of Glasgow bands Twin Atlantic and Chvrches, sell street newspapers.

Starting the week with a Thunderclap, a form of mass tweet, it followed with hourly tweets with pictures of celebrities and normal vendors from around the world.

The campaign resulted in 15.5m timeline deliveries on Twitter and almost £12,000 raised for INSP. Sales of the Big Issue also rose by 9% nationwide in the week following the campaign.

Dunlop said: “The #VendorWeek hashtag allowed global street paper supporters new and old to speak together across Twitter and Instagram. With 15.5 million timeline deliveries on Twitter, it carried the street paper message far and wide.

“More than 6,400 Tweets from over 1000 contributors mentioned #VendorWeek. #VendorWeek raised a significant amount of money for INSP and sold a lot of street papers, but the true success was in these social media conversations; in giving thousands of people a different perspective on homelessness, street papers and our vendors.”

Be Good Be Social also heard from Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite, who discussed the phenomenal success of its 2014 Itison campaign to buy Christmas dinner for a homeless person for £5.

The social enterprise café hoped to sell 800 Christmas meals to cover the cost of opening its Glasgow and Edinburgh cafes exclusively for homeless people on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Instead it sold 33,752 meals, enabling it to provide free meals to homeless people throughout the whole year.

Be Good Be Social runs third sector social media gatherings in Scotland. Find out more at



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