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How #BoughtAtBHF sparked the imagination of supporters

6 December 2019

As the UK’s biggest charity retailer, there’s a chance that you’ve got a British Heart Foundation (BHF) shop on your high street. With over 750 clothes shops and home stores across the country, plus an eBay shop absolutely jam-packed with gems, we’re difficult to miss!

Making the most of our resources though has been an ongoing journey.

Two years ago, we set out to challenge perceptions of our charity shops as stuffy, old fashioned and stale.

We noticed increasingly that BHF shoppers were tagging us on Instagram in high quality, aspirational pictures, but for a while this content was hidden in our tagged photos tab, and we weren’t really leveraging its true potential.

#BoughtAtBHF was born out of a desire to collate all of this amazing content – tapping into existing behaviours and repurposing it on our channels. We wanted to operate like any other major player on the high street, and show off the amazing things people were finding in our shops.

The power of a hashtag

Over the past two years #BoughtAtBHF has become more than a hashtag. It’s been woven into the fabric of our retail communications – online, in our shops and across PR.

Online, the hashtag has been invaluable in building relationships with our shoppers. By closely monitoring active users of the hashtag, we were able to pick out people who regularly shop with us and identify opportunities for us to collaborate with them on retail campaigns.

Through #BoughtAtBHF, we established our BHF Style Team – a growing army of aspiring influencers and bloggers who all love to shop at the BHF. Looking at key moments in our retail calendar, we’ve commissioned projects for them – like our occasion wear challenge this summer. For example we approached three members of our Style Team and challenged them to find the perfect pre-loved outfit to pair with our new-goods fascinators range. This created really authentic content for our channels (something that’s really important to us) and content that our audience actually wanted to see.

Most recently, we also held a content creation day and invited members of the Style Team to come along, armed with their favourite clothes and accessories from BHF shops, for a photoshoot. This was a really effective way of building relationships with our influencers and crucially, it was also a really fun day for all involved! We now have over 200 individual images at our disposal from the shoot to use across social.

Offline meets online

We’ve worked closely with our retail marketing team to take the messaging in-store and created #BoughtAtBHF mirror stickers for our shop changing rooms. We also teamed up with our eBay office who now include #BoughtAtBHF on all packaging slips in their parcels.

This is a great way to drive content, awareness and also tap into new audiences for the hashtag.

Throughout the year we’ve also linked up with our PR team to ensure that #BoughtAtBHF is front and centre of all retail campaigns.

Reuse Revolution, which ran in October, is all about encouraging shoppers to be more sustainable and choose reused homeware to transform their living spaces. During the month, we ran a competition across social media, tying in with the PR messaging, to encourage people to share their favourite BHF finds. Using #BoughtAtBHF as the mechanism for entry, was not only a great way to get people sharing content, it also gave us some really strong insight into shopper behaviours, and understanding why they’re passionate about sustainability and shopping pre-loved.

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I bought this chair from @the_bhf earlier this week and I can’t deny… I love it! 💖 It looks super cute in my Airbnb apartment and I’m hoping my guests will love it just as much as I do! 😍 PS. Just a reminder, make sure you pop into your local charity shops for a nosy as often as you can, there’s always new stock dropping and every time you purchase something, you are donating to charity AND recycling! Btw, the vintage sideboard was also from BHF, we found it on their eBay store! . . . . #tropicalvibes #mycreativeinterior #mycollecteddecor #colorfulhome #Mybohovibes #eclectichome #bohemianinteriors #boldbohemians #myhousebeautiful #myeclecticmix #myhometoinspire #myhomestyle #moreismoredecor #colorismyjam #eclecticdecor #mycreativeinterior #apartmenttherapy #housebeautiful #boldinteriors #thenewbohemians #midcenturyhome #stellarspaces #abmathome #anthroplogie

A post shared by Kirsty 🌈 Colour & Interiors (@labelsforlunch) on

Here are just a couple of the lovely messages we received:

“I love shopping at The BHF because not only do you get amazing furniture – it supports a fantastic charity! We have many pieces from the BHF throughout our home, all so different but so loved!”

“I donate my unwanted furniture, then shop for new pieces to upcycle for the family – knowing that the money raised will fund more research into heart conditions to help our loved ones live a longer life.”

How can you harness hashtag power for yourself?

Understanding your followers and how to create content that they will actually want to see is so important, so do your research – how are they engaging with other brands and charities on social?

Set out some clear and realistic priorities. What are you looking to achieve? Do you want to raise awareness? Are you hoping to drive donations? Or maybe you’re just looking for some great content. Whatever your goal, have it front and centre.

Make sure you measure your results. What are people saying about you on social? Has this changed? How are they engaging with you now?

And remember these things take time. It’s a labour of love – stick with it!

For us, #BoughtAtBHF will continue to be a priority as we drive forward in challenging how our shops are seen. Ultimately, it’s all about knowing our audience and leaning in to their behaviours to create fresh, authentic and collaborative content, that showcases the full potential of our shops.

This month, the BHF are also challenging people to have a Green Christmas! From one-off gifts, to vintage partywear, help save items from landfill and save lives – and don’t forget to share your festive finds using #BoughtAtBHF!

Sarah McLoughlin

social media executive, British Heart Foundation

Sarah has been part of the BHF’s award-winning social media team for over two years. In her role as social media executive, she works across a range of social media platforms to identify and engage with existing and potential supporters, focusing on the charity’s retail activity as well as challenge events. From identifying influencers to planning creative social content, Sarah’s role is incredibly fast paced and diverse.