Report on CiviCRM usage, as seen on twitter

2011-07-31 02:46
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We conducted a research to see how often someone tweeted about a page powered by CiviCRM in the past month and a half. We analysed 858 tweets by 612 users about 163 sites, some big names like oxfam or the red cross, some for tiny organisations.

These sites cover an amazingly wide range of topics: homeless, food, transgender, environment, sport, political parties, pets, public health NGOs, independant movies, gender equality, education, cancer, anti weed prohibition...


For this research, TTTP developped a robot that automatically searches for tweets containing a link that is like:

  • for a contribution (or pcp)
  • for an event (registration of info)
  • for a profile (listing or create) civicrm/profile
  • for a petition civicrm/petition

That works for the various urls generated by CiviCRM (drupal nice or normal urls and joomla). We only looked for usually public pages and obviously only for sites that were mentionned in a public tweet.

What have they tweeted about?

2/3rd of the tweets where about events (549), much more than donation (229), petition and profile. We didn't search for the last two at the beginning of the reasearch, we'll see how they evolve in our next report, but it's interesting to note that petitions seems to generate much more tweets per site than the other types (more on that later).

Moreover, we only analyse "out of the box" civicrm. The big ones (eg the donation for wikipedia or a campaign against lobbying we developped that generated more than 800 tweets in a month) have custom urls that are undetected by our robot.

When have they tweeted ?

We were not expecting to have less tweets during the week-end than the rest of the week. Unfortunately, the computer running the bot was switched off for a few days because I was busy with other issues around the 18th and as twitter doesn't save the tweets (at least the search feature doesn't work for tweets older than a few days) we couldn't fetch them in time.

The drop on the 4th of july seems to confirm that most of the user are in the US.

We will produce these reports again (we aim a monthly frequency), we'll see how it evolves.

Which sites?

Looking at the TLD, that's mostly .org domain names, but as well some geographical ones (ca, nz, fr, eu, de ...). However, the vast majority of the sites seems to be for US organisations.

We kept the most visible sites (more than 5 tweets) to see those using best twitter


Even so the majority of the tweets are about events, the first one is a petition and the second for donations The other top performers seems to have several events promoted, and they seem to do a lot of self promotion (tweeting about their events) on the top of having their supporters tweeting/re-tweeting about them.

As we only had two sites having a petition during the period, that's hard to have a definitive conclusion, however, I am pretty certain the main reason petitions are more visibles is because that's the only part where we automatically generate a tweet button (and facebook like).

Most of the tweets for events are "home made", like

  • Next performance of Much Ado - Hurst Festival
  • This is a very special event and we would love to see you there. There will be ample opportunity to mingle with
  • Don't forget to register for the #2011RuralConference to participate in 30+ sessions focused on #rural innovations
  • Learn to use your garden, yard and kitchen waste to create rich soil! Composting 101 this weekend!
  • Design a bra for Cups Full of Hope (my personal favourite)

But most of the petition ones are

  • Sign this, I did

(this is the default text, not good and should be personalised, but obviously better than nothing)

We need to modify the event registration and donation "thank you" pages and related email templates to contain by default a tweet button and facebook like too (patch welcome).

We did try to find how often the users promoting a site where the owners of that site. Looking at the profile of the users, we tried to see if their url is the same as the url of the site they tweet about.

Out of the 848 tweets, 118 were "self promotion". Out of the 163 different sites, we only identified 49 "owners". We need to teach the bot to match subdomains, eg. being able to match a with and with, but

if you use civicrm and twitter  and organise event, do fundraising or have a petition, please could you be sure:

  • you tweet about your events and activitites with a link (at least from time to time)
  • you put in your profile the same domain name as where you host the site?


More social network features and next steps


As seen, having "FB like" & tweet buttons seems to help the promotion of a petition. We need to add them as well to donations and event info.

If you don't shout loudly against this improvement, we will likely add it during the code sprint after civicon london (register now). We'll monitor the result on twitter.

Monitoring twitter and integration with your CiviCRM

Beside being able to monitor part of urls in the tweets, our bot is also able to to search on hashtags or any word. If you think it could help your organisation, please contact me see if we can work together.

Moreover, our bot is kind enough to automatically create a contact for each twitter user and add her tweets as activities, so it might be a nice way of knowing better your supporters from within your own civicrm and see how they interact with you on twitter too. Again, contact me if you want to try adding social features to your civicrm install.

Last but not the least, we are developping a twitter app and a new type of activity in civicrm: "tweet" to be able to send a direct message from civicrm (needs some more hours of dev, but almost there).

Knowing The community better

I browsed the list of case studies and organisations that registered on, and it seems that a lot of these 163 sites haven't registered themselves or written a case study.

I am tempted to contact them (sending them an "@Reply happy to have you as a user, please register your site if not done already...")

Do you think it's too spammy do to it automatically? Do you have suggestions for a nice message?


In conclusion this research is quite exploratory and was a good opportunity to learn about using twitter api and developping an app, using R (to do most of the datamining and graphs), if you have ideas and suggestion on what we should mesure or display in the next report, please share them with me. If you have founding resources or time to code, you are even more welcome to contact me and see how we can put more social features in civicrm ;)


And, of course, the mandatory message about how you should Follow me on Twitter


Update: Another visualisation of these data.




I have Tweetdeck setup to return any tweet w/ #civicrm or civicrm in a URL and it's quite interesting to see the diversity of sites using Civi.


Adding Tweet and FB Like "share" links to the default contribution page and event info templates seems like a good idea (and easy to do if it's "hard-coded" in the templates. BUT...  I'm curious as to whether some folks would find this objectionable as default behavior (and why). Of course appropriate CSS classes would be used to ensure that folks could style, move or hide the blocks if needed.

Haven't had to look at this request yet but it is on a long list for a newish client.


We use modules iike the 'FB Like Button', 'Google Plus One +1' and Tweetbutton


All of these come with settings to enable various Content Types to be included. Having a similar option to specify whether we want the buttons on Event Info, Event and Contribution Receipt/Thank you pages etc, would seem like a useful option.


Whether the above is made possible in core or via patches to the above modules may be worth discussing.

About adding a "facebook" like or "share on" twitter button: It seems like a better approach might be to use/enable the "like/share" module on CiviCRM pages that people are already using elsewhere on their Drupal or Joomla website. These would lead to better consistency for the visitor to the website.

Although it would be great to be able to track how/who they share with, such as already happens with "Tell a Friend" features within CiviCRM contribution/event pages.

The like/share used elsewhere is NOT going to help: it's usually working with


What we want is that from the thank you page for an event it allows to like/share the


Moreover, you can put specific text, eg. "I'm attending {event.title} on {} + link"


Don't see how to have something specific like that that you can plug in an hypothetical site like/share



The biggest thing that would help would be an ability to login to a site with a facebook or twitter login. Have all the civi forms prepopulated with basic data.