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Innocent The Big Knit Case Study

Teach First

You may know Teach First best as a charity which pairs top graduates and those looking for a career change with challenging schools as a way to improve the life opportunities of pupils.

The charity saw how graduates were devising fresh solutions to problems in the classroom and have spun some of these ideas into social enterprises. In 2013, Teach First decided to create a space to develop them further by setting up its own Innovation Unit.

They helped one of their graduates, Jamie Feilden, make a compelling case for Jamie's Farm – a social enterprise that helps disengaged pupils to improve their attitude to education by asking them to look after farm animals – to secure £500,000 in funding. For innovation to flourish, charities need detailed insights into the social problems they are trying to solve along with the time, skills and support to nurture ideas from their people.

Raindrops on Roses

This boutique style, high-end gift shop in St Albans is one of a new breed of charity shops. It was established by retail market research company ABA Market Research in 2012 in aid of the charity Herts against Cancer.

The company has delivered on its vision of a new kind of charity shop which has also become a hub for the local community and uses local artists and designers. The shop has raised more than £40,000 for Herts against Cancer. This shows how being openminded about old concepts can bring a new lease of life, as well as new money.


It's well known that #nomakeupselfie happened almost by accident when the team at Cancer Research UK noticed people asking on social media if they had started the campaign.

The team was open about the fact that the campaign wasn't theirs but saw people were keen to create selfies to support their cause and provided a text to donate code. They went on to raise more than £8m for charity. To innovate, charities need to be agile enough to react quickly, willing to listen and to give up control to let their audiences use content as they wish.


Founder Mark Chandler previously worked at a large cancer charity and came up with the ideas for Guess2Give when he ran a successful fundraising sweepstake on his triathlon time, rather than just asking for sponsorship.

He went on to establish Guess2Give as an online fundraising platform whose users set up sweepstakes to fundraise. It uses gaming principles to help raise more funds for both large and small charities. Innovation isn't just technology, the key to its success is that the Guess2Give team is knowledgeable about fundraising.

Age UK

The Big Knit is a partnership between Age UK and Innocent which asks the charity's supporters to knit hats for smoothie bottles. From the sale of every bottle, 25p is donated to Age UK. In the 10 years since it started, it has raised in excess of £1.5m from more than a million little hats. Yet this is more than a novelty idea - the act of knitting helps groups of older people get together and raise funds. Finding the right corporate partner who shares their ethos can create the space and the means for charities to work on innovative ideas.

The Children's Society

Last year The Children's Society ran Geordie Magic, which saw a team of magicians engage with members of the public in a street fundraising campaign. The campaign was run in Newcastle to raise awareness of the 400 children who go missing in the area each year, and to generate funds for the local Scarpa (Safeguarding Children At Risk Prevention and Action) project that helps them.

The street magicians were a strong "pull" factor for potential donors. Rather than crossing the road, people were stopping the magicians to ask them what they were doing. The campaign outperformed The Children's Society's benchmark. The Children's Society did a lot of research about future fundraising initiatives with the local community before coming up with the idea.

Find out more about these ideas, and what innovation means to charities, in the new Charity Innovation Survey - out today.

For more news, opinions and ideas about the voluntary sector, join our community.

We like innocent. We’re big fans of their brand, their social media presence and their team (we recently took a trip to Fruit Towers to see how they work and met a few humans – they were very nice!).

innocent drinks produce smoothies, juices and veg pots which are sold across the UK. They sell over 2 million smoothies per week and are 90% owned by The Coca-Cola Company, so they’re a pretty big deal.

Over the last few years, innocent have become known for their innovative, playful and soft-sale social presence and I felt it was time to take a further look into what they do – and how they do it so well.

During our visit to Fruit Towers, we managed to speak with Helena Langdon, the Head of Social Media at innocent drinks – have a listen to the podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud.


As I said, we’ve been big fans of the innocent brand for a long while – they always seem to crop up on our Twitter feed with something that makes you go “Oh, I wish I had thought of that!“. Their content is fresh, different and stands out from the crowd. The most obvious thing about the innocent brand and content is it matches their name – it’s all entirely innocent. It’s child friendly and something you could easily show your family – and they’d laugh too. It’s not rude or offensive – it’s just good-hearted humour and entertainment.

innocent are a brand who treat their customers as real, breathing, living human beings. They engage with their customers in a friendly and relatable manner, by acknowledging that each of the people sending them comments, questions or complaints is an actual person behind a computer screen/mobile. They don’t market themselves too obviously – and they make fun of that fact too:

We interrupt our relentless smoothie-based marketing messages to bring you this photo of a baby skunk. pic.twitter.com/n77B6PoDnk

— innocent drinks (@innocentdrinks) February 19, 2015

A lot of their feed is cute or funny images (like above) that each person can resonate with and they very rarely shout selling messages to their customer base. Their loudest message is in each of their banners – and we’ll look at that later. Finally, they work well in real-time situations and aren’t afraid to try the ‘dad jokes’ that everyone groans about. Now we’ve looked at the brand, let’s take a look at their social networks and see how they use to its maximum capability. It’s going to be a fruity ride.

Site & blog:

The innocent drinks website is on-brand and fits with their social media and even their packaging! It’s clean, white with friendly colours and fonts. They have a menu that could have been written by a child, and neatly allows you to find exactly what you’re looking for. The blog is a continuation of their social media updates – with longer text about some of the pictures they’ve posted, created or had sent in by customers.

Their websites (they have one for each country in which innocent drinks are sold) have social ‘boxes’ with an image from each network. They normally link to the main three – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

It truly shows how visual innocent are that they promote their social channels through images from each – and that they aren’t afraid to be simple and easy to understand. There is no complicated jargon, there is nothing that would scare people off – it’s all friendly. It’s a clever use of content marketing is pushing the brand and making it more family friendly.


innocent have almost half a million likes on Facebook – that’s a big number! They have one of the rare selling messages emblazoned on their Facebook cover photo – but it’s a positive one. They are extremely proud about their charity donations, and rightly so! This goes across their Twitter account too, and is an extremely clever way of adding to your brand’s good side. innocent also have a pages for France, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. 

The innocent Facebook page is their secondary hub (behind their Twitter account) where they post illustrations, funny videos and photos, cute furry animals and anything and everything in between. However, they never steer off brand and are still soft-selling – with no hard hitting marketing messages and nothing that explicitly talks about their product.

Although innocent don’t post daily (and we don’t blame them) they get good engagement when they do post and they update regularly enough to ensure their customers don’t switch off. We also like their use of simple text updates (i.e. tweets) and their increased use of video – we’d love to see more of what they have in store.

One last thing – when it comes to replying to customer posts, they are quick, concise and have the same tone of voice as the rest of their brand – jokey, friendly and someone you’d like to get to know. They always deal with things in a humorous and kind manner – something which will ripple further than just the original poster.


Twitter is where innocent drinks shine. The main account on Twitter is @innocentdrinks. They send about 300 tweets a week, but don’t respond to everyone – only the relevant. Communities Manager Helena Langdon told us that they “try to respond to everyone that needs a response” – something which a lot of brands could live by. You don’t need to answer everyone, but you do need to reply to the good AND the bad – otherwise it could damage your brand.

Their Twitter strategy is the same content as their Facebook updates, but more regularly. They do tailored content for real-time marketing – such as this for the London tube strike in February 2014:

Travelling in London today? Here are your options… pic.twitter.com/kodLuIimu6

— innocent drinks (@innocentdrinks) February 5, 2014

…or this for the launch of the new iPhone 6 (#AppleLive):

The latest in Apple technology #AppleLivepic.twitter.com/pnTeEJmhy8 — innocent drinks (@innocentdrinks) September 9, 2014

(They even used my Dad joke once, so I obviously have a soft spot for them…)

First #dadjoke of the year. Over to you, pops: I’m giving up spray deodorants for the new year. Roll on 2015.

— innocent drinks (@innocentdrinks) January 9, 2015

Their content is always on-trend and fits with the brand – it’s easily shareable and anyone can understand it. When it comes to dealing with customer service, they react well:

Thank you @innocentdrinks you have made my wife very happy – great customer service! pic.twitter.com/WblTVlYVEo — Andi Foster (@Andi_Foster) January 16, 2015

…and can become sassy sometimes (when needed!):

@NewtBeaumont we’re sorry to hear that our ad is saturating your itv player, Newt. We’ve passed your feedback on to the relevant people.

— innocent drinks (@innocentdrinks) February 11, 2015

innocent’s strategy for Twitter is simple – make it retweetable. Make it easy to understand, share and enjoy and you’re in for success.


innocent drinks on Instagram (found at innocent) have roughly 38k followers and post the same photos and images that are posted on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The content is all high quality – well thought out and received well.

However, when looking at hashtags – the #innocentsmoothies hashtag has over 5 times the amount of photos tagged with #innocentdrinks. It’s interesting to see that, where the branding is different to elsewhere, the amount of content and engagement is higher. However, it doesn’t bode well for the overall brand. On Facebook, innocent drinks are /innocent, on Twitter they are @innocentdrinks and on Instagram it’s innocentsmoothies. There is no consistency, and it can get quite confusing.


innocent drinks’ LinkedIn is extremely simple – they have a Company Page with almost 20,000 followers – and regularly post professional news (so no cute furry animals here!).

The most interesting thing about innocent drinks on LinkedIn is the lack of a ‘Careers’ page – they prefer to do all their job postings in-house and on their site. Their LinkedIn strategy is simple, and the network doesn’t really fit with their brand, so I can see why they don’t do much here!


Over on Vine, innocent drinks can be found at vine.co/innocent. Ever since they joined around a year ago, they’ve only done 10 Vines with only 3 throughout 2014. However, finally, in 2015 they are taking Vine seriously with 7 high quality uploads in the last two months. Helena told us (in our #SMKnowHow podcast) that in 2015 she wanted to concentrate on Vine and do more updates – something we support fully! Their Vines are creative, different and are subliminal marketing messages (like the rest of their social presence).


innocent drinks are extremely clever in the way they use social media to promote their brand and build a community.

Firstly, they know their audience – by testing the waters previously and ensuring that all content is innocent, child-friendly and relatable. Secondly, they know how to use the various networks and what works best for each – with regular updates and communication on Twitter and less-regular posts on Facebook. Finally, they know what will get them the best ROI – on Twitter, they’re funny, on trend and quirky; Facebook is kept simple with a cut-down version of their Twitter feed and their LinkedIn page is used for what it’s needed. On Instagram and Vine, the uploads are good, but we could see more! The only problem we have with the innocent strategy is the usernames – however this is something they seem to be looking at.

Brands: take note – be funny and do it well and you’ll become known for being the best.

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