Digital round-up – June

June passed by in a blur of great weather, football fever and lots of great charity reads. Get an ice cream / cool drink and settle back to hook some juicy digital catches!

metal fish in a paddling pool, ready to be hooked for fun. Summer picture.

Warning – this is another bumper crop. Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox. Enjoy!

Content

Dogs Trust - cute animation. Starts with a dog shuffling across the screen looking cheeky

Map with hundreds of red dots, each clickable to read the supporter's comment

5s video showing a small wave washing away a person (in lego) talking a photo of the weather.

Screenshot of doggy Twitter Moment

Digital

In case you missed it Brathay Trust: a lesson in crisis comms.

Brathay's instagram - image of a young man in a bright yellow t-shirt completing the run

Teams and ways of working

Mind your language

Suicide has been in the news a lot recently. Here are some guides to writing about it responsibly.

Events

Fundraising

Scope subscription box Mindful Monsters for parents and chidren

More

And finally….

1970's BBC presenter next to a BBC micro computer.

 

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Did you miss May’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

 

 

 

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Join these digital leaders

Child's drawing: stick people. One says "I've had an idea". The other says "I have too". Both have lightbulbs above their heads!

Digital teams going the extra mile to share their knowledge.

I love our sector. We do so well to connect and learn from each other. From attending meet-ups, mentoring and shadowing, or learning from hashtags or other people’s top takeaways from events, there are lots of free ways we can share and learn from each other.

Must reads

One of my go-to sources of knowledge and inspiration are the hubs of big charity digital teams. These include:

I regularly include their posts and links in my monthly round-ups as they are so useful. As well as an excuse to peep in at the window of these big charities, the shared thinking and best practice is good food for thought for us all. Posts can prompt discussion, collaboration and new ideas.

There are quite a lot of councils and other public sector blogs from digital teams around too. For example:

Benefits to the team

Although producing the posts and curating the accounts can be time-consuming, the task brings other benefits.

  • Team building – done collaboratively, creating posts about projects can help the team to reflect and review the work they are doing. In busy teams, it is easy to move on to the next task, project, crisis with no time to review or think about how to share successes, challenges or failure with others. Creating a culture of review and sharing can help to give space for reflection and improvement.
  • Knowledge sharing and skills development – if members of the team read each other’s posts, it can help them to learn from each other and appreciate stresses and demands. This can drive better future projects.
  • Internal comms – content can help non-digital internal colleagues to understand the processes and thinking behind digital projects. If writing for a non-digital audience, it can be good practice for team members to be more careful about the terminology used in their posts, cutting out the jargon too. Posts can be repurposed for internal channels.
  • Profile raising – well-shared posts can help to raise the profile of the digital teams, helping with future recruitment. Who wouldn’t want to work in a team doing cutting-edge work?
  • Creativity – a blog gives the freedom to be creative, finding different ways to share knowledge. It feels nice to do the thinking around a topic, write it up (or draw pictures or make a video) and share it. A blog can be colourful and fun showing the personality of the writer and team. And no-one gets bored of seeing photos of post-its (do they?).

colourful post-its used in content planning

So do follow / subscribe to these accounts.

Better still, start your own team’s blog to share your processes, successes and failures. We can all learn from them.

Your top tips

Are there other blogs or Twitter feeds run by digital teams you’d recommend? Have you contributed to your team blog? Any top tips for making it work? Do you have a content calendar or a blog owner who manages / edits it?

Please share in the comments.

 

<Headline image drawn by my son, found on my desk recently!>

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital comms, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. Can I help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck or ideas injection?

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What can we learn from recent user-generated viral content?

Diminishing trust in charities, institutions and experts is widely discussed at the moment. As comms professionals how can we tackle this? We still have important messages to get out there.

I have seen a few examples recently where individuals on Twitter have shared important messages which have gone viral. What is it about these messages which have worked where charity comms just haven’t connected?

Here are some examples of when a charity’s message goes viral without the charity being involved or when an individual shares a public information message which a charity has been working on, and reaches more people. And finally some suggestions of what we can learn from this.

Time to Change’s beer mats

On 23 April @CarSeatArmRest with 3100 followers tweeted an image he’d taken of Time to Change’s In Your Corner campaign beer mats with the words “These beer mats are SO needed. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 49, killing three times as many British men as women. It’s time to talk about men’s mental health!!”

To date, the tweet has had 209k likes, 77k RTs and 300 replies and it is still going strong. It doesn’t contain any hashtags or @mentions. The beer mat / coaster art work was launched six months ago.

Tweet showing images of Time to Change beer mats

I spoke to Time to Change’s Seb Baird who said. “We had a little bit of social buzz when the coasters were launched. They were placed in selected pubs at campaign launch in October 2017 but the people we’re trying to reach with this campaign don’t tend to talk about mental health on social media. The fact that they went viral now speaks to the relevance of the message and the difficulty in predicting how things spread on social. It also shows how people respond to physical materials differently to digital assets: I don’t think a tweet with the same message on a social graphic would have been as popular!”

“When this tweet took off we decided to take a hands-off approach, only retweeting the original post and replying to messages in the threads where they were relevant to the product and our organisation. We wanted the message to come first and our brand to come second.”

“That said, we had a 4x spike in our new Twitter followers that day, which is pretty great given we didn’t get an @ mention. We’ve had about 50 downloads of the coaster so far – they weren’t originally on our materials platform because they’re quite a niche product, so we had to upload sharpish and send the link in our Twitter replies.”

“By sod’s law, this happened on the one day of the year where the digital team were all out at a conference together. This meant that we picked it up quite late, and didn’t get to have a live look at how it went viral. In my view, it’s a testament to the strength of the messaging and the urgency of the topic, and it shows how important it is to have individuals taking your message and brand forward themselves; that authenticity is invaluable.”

The viral campaign was covered in The Independent (note autoplaying video on load) giving it a further push. You can download the coaster for yourself on the Time to Change website.

Other examples

Cancer charities have been trying to educate the public about sun damage and sun screen for years. On a sunny day last week, Jonathan Hume tweeted a thread about how sun cream works getting thousands of likes and RTs. People were replying with questions about different brands of cream and how to ensure sun safety.

Jonathan Hume's thread about sunscreen ratings

I don’t know whether any cancer charities spotted or got involved with this thread but compare it with CRUK’s similarly timed sun safety message which didn’t get much interaction or this one from Macmillan.

CRUK tweet about sun safety. 49 likes, 34 RTs

Did you watch Stephen Fry’s announcement that he has prostate cancer? This HuffPost article argues that well-intentioned public information doesn’t work – Stephen Fry’s message about prostate cancer spurred me on to get checked.

Earlier in the year, blind Twitter user Rob Long’s plea for people to use captions / alt text on images on Twitter got 178k likes, 145k RTs. Seemingly doing more to boost awareness about accessibility on Twitter singlehandedly than other of the organisations working in this area.

tweet from rob long asking twitter users to activate and use accessibility settings.

However it is worth noting that RNIB’s request for people to capitalise the first letters of words in hashtags to make them easier to read did well later in the year.

RNIB: Simple tweet reminding people to CapitaliseTheFirstLetter of words in hashtags to make them easier to read.

(NB this blog post about how to get alt text right is worth reading if you are new to image descriptions. It was widely shared at the start of the year following Rob Long’s tweet.)

Lessons

1. People respond better to advice or requests from peers than authority figures

We’re in an age of fake news, distrust of experts and too much noise. No wonder we turn to our peers for recommendations and information. What can you do about this?

Bring more voices into your comms, let people tell their own story (rather than you presenting their case study). Some methods include hosting and sharing user-generated content (see blog post from 2016 on Anthony Nolan’s Facebook content strategy and look at NHS Give Blood comms) and Twitter takeovers.

Listen to your community and those outside it. Do you read your organisation’s timeline or follow relevant keywords on your social channels? Use social media to be social rather than to broadcast. Join in with conversations but don’t dominate them.

Many charities also now reach out to influencers and find ways they can work together.

2. Simple content works best

What proportion of your content is information giving? Your evergreen content strategy probably involves big topics (“hey find out about symptoms!”) and a helpful link to your website. That can be daunting or disrupting to consume.

Think instead about micro information – what are your top tips or life hacks? What simple, practical tips or information do you have which might get uplift on a Friday afternoon? Think detail or niche but interesting and useful.

Think also about your tone of voice. Do you write in an approachable, clear, warm way? Are you writing as an friend or a parent or a teacher? Do your tweets include clutter? The messages which worked well above didn’t have hashtags or links to get in the way.

3. You don’t need to be involved in every conversation but you do need to make sure you can capitalise on the engagement

Time to Change decided not to get too involved in the beer mat conversations. They didn’t need to. The message was the important thing. But they did recognise that they needed to do more to make the artwork more widely available and quickly added them to their resource library. What do you need to do to make a message or resource fly even more?

Conclusions

I am not saying you should ditch your social strategy to use these approaches. You should do what is right for your brand, cause and audience. But it is worth reviewing your methods and impact and testing out how you can use social to really engage with people.

Any other examples?

Have you come across any other examples or have tips based on how you’ve tackled this problem? What do you think about these examples? Please do share in the comments.

See also:

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with digital copywriting, content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection. I have some time in May and June. Drop me a line.

Digital round-up – Jan/Feb 18

In case you missed them, some of the best reads on crisis comms, digital strategy and charity content from last month.

red boat. blue sky. sign saying: DANGER. intense sound signal operates without warning

Crisis comms

Charities have been in the headlines ever since the start of the year (Oxfam, President’s Club, Oxfam again, Jo Cox Foundation). There’s lots we can learn from these events in terms of how we need to respond to a crisis and rebuild trust.

Read, then review your crisis comms plan. Does it include the right people? Have you got clarity about the messages? Do they work across all channels? Have staff done media training? Are there enough people with social media skills to be able to respond to comments? (NB Oxfam put a call-out to staff for help and drafted in 40 colleagues to help with front-line messaging.)

It’s worth noting that it’s not just Oxfam who have been effected by this story. NCVO have been working tirelessly to share safeguarding best practice and represent the sector in media interviews.

Digital skills, design and strategy

Content

Still from Macmillan video - "it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done"

#WorldCancerDay is a big day for lots of health charities. Macmillan launched this lovely #LittleActsOfKindness video. I really liked the way they displayed the subtitles.

In addition to the usual fundraising and bad poems, there were some harder-hitting Valentine’s Day charity comms. None quite as cringy as the DWP’s festive message though thankfully.

Tweet showing the mental health foundation video - vox pops on Millennium Bridge in the rain

Other charities joined in with #TimeToTalk day. This gentle video from the Mental Health Foundation makes us think about answers to ‘how are you?’

How can you use your archive to connect with topical stories? There were lots of charities marking the 100 years since (some) women got the vote. Age UK told the story of one of its founders Eleanor Rathbone.

I am a sucker for maps and data. These examples of (non-charity) content marketing campaigns using maps could give food for thought. How can you use your data to tell a bigger story?

tweet from rob long asking twitter users to activate and use accessibility settings.

This blind Twitter user’s plea which has now had 179k likes seems to have done so much more to raise awareness about image accessibility than any charity or Twitter themselves. Have you changed your settings? This guide to getting alt text right is a must-read if you are new to describing images.

Good to see Doncaster Council’s Chief Executive maintaining the gif standards in her comms.

And finally…

What did I miss?

I spent January doing an interim comms manager role as well as going to BarCampNFP and SMEX18 so might have missed other good stuff. What did you read / watch / produce this month? Please do share.

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Did you miss November 2017’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

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10 tips for great online legacy fundraising

In 2013 I wrote about online legacy fundraising content. Although well written persuasive copy is still key, digital trends move on. So four years later it is time to see whether the web pages about legacy fundraising have improved and what has changed.

I looked at a random sample of over 50 large, medium and small charities. In most cases the pages were pretty dull, especially from smaller charities. It is hard to write warm, engaging copy about legacies as we often fall over ourselves trying to be sensitive. But the charities who get it right have a confidence and a clear sense of themselves and their audience.

collage of various screenshots from sites discussed below

Here are ten ingredients for emotive and effective online legacy fundraising.

Be clear and persuasive

WaterAid’s legacy site stood out as the go-to example of a persuasive and well designed site. The page starts with a clear call to action – leave the world with water – which sets the tone. They use eye catching and engaging links and headings (leave your mark / what would you like to pass on?) which include and challenge the reader. Images are positive and inspiring. They also include a photograph and name of a person to contact as well as a legacy promise which are both reassuring and clear.

WaterAid

Save the Children UK also use clear and inspiring headings (write a child’s smile into your will) and use bold to highlight important words. They use beautiful pictures of smiling children to reinforce their words. Their writing is confident, concise and persuasive (make a lasting difference, your kindness).

Save the Children UK

Use social proofing to normalise the action

Many charities talk about ‘thousands of people who leave a legacy’ or ‘thanks to people like you’. This social proofing is refecting and reinforcing the decision that the reader is almost ready to make.

Events like Remember a Charity week help to promote legacy fundraising. Many charities use the event to reinforce their ask, showing that remembering a charity is a normal action that everyone can do.

The Migraine Trust makes a clear statement which makes leaving a legacy accessible – “a gift of just 1% will make a real difference to supporting our charitable work”. This is a clearer way of what they were saying in 2013 (see below).

Migraine Trust

Use video

Since 2013, many more legacy pages include videos. Take a look at this personal message from a supporter on Prisoners Abroad. Or this slick video from ActionAid showing Mrs Harben’s legacy. Or this simple beautiful video from RSPB. Or this speaking from the heart story from Glenys who supports the Alzheimer’s Society.

Alzheimer's Society

Talk about impact

What difference will someone’s gift make? Talk big picture about your vision / mission or about specific services. More charities are making big statements about what a legacy means to them.

RSPB’s opening statement is clear and bold: Your legacy is nature’s future.

RSPB

Refugee Action’s Leave a legacy page goes into more detail. It is beautifully written using storytelling and sense of urgency. It frames the problem and talks about what they can do with a legacy gift. The page is short, concise and powerful. A great example of a small charity getting it right.

East Lancashire Hospice talk about leaving a legacy of love and explain that last year, legacy gifts paid for three months of care.

If your organisation is all about solving a problem or finding a cure, talking about legacies could be difficult. How do you frame the ask when you might not be around or needed in the same way in 20 / 50 years? Don’t avoid the issue – think about how you can present it effectively.

Macmillan Cancer‘s legacy page says: “In the future, doctors and nurses are going to get much better at diagnosing cancer earlier, and treating it.” But stresses that half of us will get cancer at some point so Macmillan will still be needed.

Say please and thank you

Choosing to leave a legacy to a charity is a big deal. The fact that someone is reading your page about this is a good sign. Keep them with you by recognising this. Say please and thank you in the right places. If you come across as kind and thoughtful at the asking stage, it will reassure people that you will behave in the same way when you are processing their gift.

Think about motivation

Why do you think someone might have reached your page? What are they thinking. This page by the Miscarriage Association is written really warmly and in a gentle tone of voice. The quote perfectly positions the ask.

Miscarriage Association

Include appropriate images

Brighten up a serious subject with colourful or inspiring images. Reward visitors to this page and make them want to stay. A collection of several images may work better than a single one. For example, this landing page for the British Heart Foundation includes images of family, medical research as well as a big thank you.

BHF

Many organisations seem to rely on stock images of grey-haired couples on their legacy pages. Remember to use images which reflect the demographics of your readers. Also people often write their will triggered by big life events such as getting married or having children. Your audience isn’t just people in later stages of their lives. Make sure you are using images which reflect their own image back at them.

Take a look at NSPCC’s page which includes quotes and images from supporters at different stages of their lives. Their stories may chime with readers, validating their own idea to leave a legacy to NSPCC (another example of social proofing).

NSPCC

Think about a hook

What could make your legacy fundraising stand out? What stories do you have to tell? Has a legacy gift allowed you to do something special or unusual? Is there someone you could write about or feature to make your ask come to life?

Mencap’s gifts in wills page is based around the inspiring story of Lord Brian Rix. The page says that he “helped change the future for people with a learning disability. With a gift in your Will to Mencap you can too.” It uses beautiful images from their archive and talks about what he achieved in his lifetime. It says that although lots has changed, people with learning disabilities still face challenges so by leaving a gift in your will, you can help change the future too.

Mencap

Similarly, Leonard Cheshire, marking its centenary say “Leonard’s legacy became our legacy. It could be your legacy too.”

Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity includes information about JM Barrie’s legacy gift in their pages. Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity talks about your final chapter and how to write your own ending.

Include practical information

Make it as easy as possible for someone to actually get the legal stuff right. So include:

  • information about different types of gifts (see this handy guide to the types of legacies by Demelza Hospice)
  • your official name (and any previous names) and charity number
  • suggested wording
  • information to help someone work out the detail of their estate
  • information for executors
  • contact details so a potential donor can get in touch.

A promise can offer reassurance about how a legacy will be dealt with when the time comes. A few charities included these – see WaterAid’s promise, RNLI and Breast Cancer Now.

Be interesting

There were a few examples of charities who’d produced interesting supporting content. For example:

  • Blue Cross reminds readers to think about their digital assets (passwords, data, photos, social media etc)
  • Cancer Research’s campaign with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Two Thirds of a Spring reflects the vital impact that one third of funding has on their life-saving work
  • Alzheimer’s Society has an online book of remembrance
  • visitors are invited to make a personalised video with Unicef UK. (NB Unicef UK have been running a campaign of promoted tweets about this recently, the only social media content I spotted about legacy fundraising during the research for this post.)

Unicef UK promoted tweet

 Get the navigation and terminology right

Think about where your legacy pages sit. How easy are they to find within navigation or search? Be your own mystery customer and check.

Don’t bury your pages – make them prominent, especially if legacies make up a sizeable proportion of your income. Don’t just stick them under ‘Other ways to give’.

Check where they appear in your content rankings on your Google Analytics. Are you using the right terminology for your audience? Test whether the word legacy or will works best. Many charities use both.

See my previous post on legacy fundraising (persuasive and engaging writing in online legacy fundraising) for some tips on terminology and placing of legacy pages. Also how to talk about legacies on social media.

How do you measure up?

Is your online legacy fundraising content strong enough or is it dull and unconvincing? Give your copy a facelift before Remember a Charity week in September. If you are not sure how well it comes across, get your mum to read it or do a page swap with someone else from another charity. Get some feedback and think about how you could bring your content to life.

Share your examples

Have you seen (or written) any good or bad examples of digital legacy fundraising? Please do share them here.

My top five online legacy fundraising sites are listed in a JustGiving blog post. I’d love to hear what yours are.

 

 

See also: