280 characters on Twitter

In case you missed it, Twitter started to roll-out its 280 character limit to all users today. Personally I think it is a sad day and mourn the opportunity that everyone had to get a message across clearly and concisely in 140. Of course there is no reason why you now have to use the full 280. Readers still have short attention spans so being clear and concise still wins in my book.

Many took to the platform, responding quickly and creatively to mark the change by spreading important messages using their first #280Character tweets. Here are some examples taken from my #280Characters Moment.

Samaritans Ireland reminded us what they do. Haven House Children’s Hospice shared their impact in 2016/17.

Samaritans Ireland

Mental Health Foundation shared stats about mental health (as well as an image asking for donations). Crisis simply repeated their pledge to end homelessness.

Mental Health Foundation

Crisis - 'end homelessness'

Scotland Fire and Rescue used it as a chance to share some important numbers.

Scot Fire and Rescue

Others like Breast Cancer Care, the Met Office and Rethink Mental Illness used just emojis. (See also this from the Cookie Monster!)

BCC use emojis to make a big pink ribbon

Some used the extra space to say thank you. Oxfam used a video and RNLI a simple thanks.

Oxfam's thank you video

Book Trust started a conversation about favourite characters (nice tie-in!) and got lots of replies.

Books Trust

Some just went mad with the extra space! See GiveBlood NHS, Age UK Lambeth and the Science Museum. Plus Macmillan’s cake tweet and London Ambulance’s nee-naws (currently clocking up 15,000 likes and a nee-naw-off with other emergency service accounts!)

GiveBlood NHS, Science Museum and Age UK Lambeth repeat their messages over and over!

Well done to all who reacted so quickly in such brilliant ways!

Does your comms / social media strategy allow you the space to be reactive and creative?

See the full collection including tweets from museums and heritage organisations in my #280Characters Moment.

See also How 280 twitter characters could benefit comms people by Kerry-Lynne Pyke of Macmillan Cancer on comms2point0  with notes about how the increase should benefit charities who tweet in English and Welsh.

Did you spot any other good examples? Do you have a story to tell about your reactive comms? Please share in the comments.

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Social media and charity content – recent highlights

Catch up with this week’s news, hashtags and creative content.

Cathy Come Home, RNIB's Mannequin Challenge, #OurDay and Innocent's #handmadetweets

In the news

This week it was 50 years since Cathy Come Home was broadcast. It inspired charities such as Crisis to be set up. It is currently available to watch on iplayer until the start of December. It is also worth listening to After Cathy which was on Radio 4, sharing stories of people experiencing different types of homelessness now.

John Lewis released its advert of bouncing animals. This year they are working with the Wildlife Trusts, although you wouldn’t know it from the advert. Sainbury’s and Aldi’s adverts at least had the charity logos showing at the end. In contrast Pret didn’t make a swanky, tear-jerking ad but produced a film showing their work around homelessness.

A CAF poll says that #FirstFiver generated an amazing £12.5m in donations. Did you see this note sent to Age UK?

The list of top #SocialCEOs was announced this week. The full list is on Zoe’s SocialCEOs blog post and tips were published on the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. I liked the stars used to congratulate the individual winners.

Spcial CEOs - naming and congratulating individual winners.

Over the last 18 months I have been working with the British Society for Haematology and helped them to transform from this to this. Their new website and brand launched last week.

BSH before and after

Events

If you missed them, catch up with recent conferences and events:

Great content

The biggest piece of content I have been looking at this week is JRF’s mighty manifesto to solve UK poverty. Amazing piece of work.

JRF's ending poverty roadmap

Coming soon

Am looking forward to taking a closer look at Christmas campaigns. In the meantime, here are some digital advent calendars from last year.

Feels like it has been a full-on week, especially in the lead-up to Christmas. What were your highlights this week? Please do share via the comments box.

Have a good weekend.

How to make the new Twitter profile work for your charity

The new Twitter layout brings new opportunities for using images. But the size and shape of images required, especially for the header, is tricky to get right. Should you stretch your logo (er, no), use a generic photo library background or search for a single picture which tells your story? There are still lots of organisations and people who haven’t made the switch yet, let’s look at some who have.

Using the profile for an appeal or campaign

This example from @OxfamGB uses one very powerful image (of a person looking directly at us) alongside a red banner about the appeal and JustText Giving details underneath. As Twitter is not traditionally used for fundraising (see previous post on donating in 140 characters), the header presents a brilliant opportunity. Oxfam could reinforce the header by pinning a tweet about the appeal so it appears at the top of the page. This would drive more traffic as nothing in the profile space is clickable.

Oxfam GB: powerful image of a face to support their South Sudan appeal

Child’s i Foundation are using their profile to promote their latest fundraising campaign. The pinned tweet works well here especially as it uses a different but similar picture.

Child's i Foundation - profile promotes their fundraising campaign. Strong picture.

Alzheimer’s Society are using their header to promote their latest campaign, Don’t bottle it up. They have included their #hashtag and link.

Alzheimer's Society: Don't bottle it up campaign text and image

Other examples organisations using the header for fundraising or to give information:

One strong image

It can be difficult to find one strong image, especially one which tells a story, is easy for everyone to understand and works in the letterbox shape (1500 x 500 pixels).

Mencap use one strong positive image of a man and boy, both smiling. This complements their friendly bio (‘Hi, we are Mencap. Everything we do is about valuing & supporting people with a learning disability, their family and carers’).

Mencap: strong image of boy and man smiling

What does your picture say about you? A photo of a single person works well as a fundraising persuasion tool but this is social media so maybe your image should be a reflection of your inclusion? There are a few examples of this such as this one from Parkinson’s UK and The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

Parkinson's UK: big happy group wearing branded t-shirts

Play to your strengths. What images do you have which you know work well? For example Guide Dogs use puppies.

Guide Dogs: three black labrador puppies

Other examples of one strong image:

But what if you don’t have a stock of strong pictures or your cause doesn’t lend itself to a photo? A graphic can work. Refuge here uses a repeated image from their logo. Lighthouse, a suicide prevention charity in Belfast use a google map showing their location. Headway East London use a painting.

Refuge : tiled graphic

Your strong image doesn’t have to be serious, it can be cheeky like Beating Bowel Cancer‘s.

Beating Bowel Cancer: group posing with plastic bottoms

Finally, museums, galleries and heritage organisations have an amazing opportunity to showcase their collections as this example from the Imperial War Museum shows.

IWM - using a painting of WW1

If you are using one strong picture, think about how often you will change it and where else it appears. Will people get tired of it after a while? How many other places it is appearing? It may be useful to use one image across your social media channels and change them to something else all at the same time. Or have one strong image per channel and use this permanently.

Checklist

  • Check that your header image works well at 1500×500 pixels. Does it tell a story? Is it cropped in the right way and uncluttered?
  • Make sure that the image and / or text is not blurry or pixelated. Start with a big picture and reduce. You can’t make small pictures bigger – you’ll lose definition.
  • Check that your logo / profile photo doesn’t obscure anything important in the header. (For example in the Guide Dogs example above, the logo slightly obscures a puppy’s nose.)
  • Is your logo / avatar clear at 400 x 400? Does it still work when reduced to tweet size?
  • Check how your image appears using different browsers / devices etc. You don’t want to do a Good Morning Britain. Images can look subtly different but enough to stop them making sense / working as well. For example, look at Samaritans’ profile – in the web version, the woman’s eyes are oddly cropped out but in a list of profiles, they appear!

Samaritan's - image cropped too close

List view - Samaritans picture is bigger revealing the woman's face

Useful links

Share your favourite examples

What examples have you come across which have inspired you (in a good or bad way?) What have you learnt about using the new-look Twitter? Please share your comments here.

Can I help you?

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you with social media. I am a freelance web editor and trainer and can help give your digital communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.

 

 

Content Curation – how to use Storify and live blogging

Got a big social media campaign or event coming up? Or want to tell your story in a new but authentic way? You need to get up-to-speed with content curation. Here’s how to capitalise on all the great content, comments and good feeling around your charity.

What is curation?

Curation is a fancy way for describing how you bring lots of different assets together to tell a story. In the old days you may have written a press release or general page about what happened. Now you can show what happened by including the tweets, videos, links etc. The storytelling is more authentic as you are doing it through the voices of other people, not just your organisation.

Curation can be done manually through your blog or you could use free sites such as Storify or Pinterest.

Campaigns and awareness raising

Time to Change produced a live blog through yesterday’s massively successful #timetotalk campaign. It gave them a place on their website to collate and share all the news coverage, tweets, pictures and messages of support as the campaign spread.

Live blog from #TimeToTalk

Curation is a good way of collecting everything together after the campaign, to say thank you and to celebrate achievements. Take a look at this example from Girlguiding of their Say No to Page3 campaign. They used Storify to share messages of support for the campaign as well as links to the petition and press coverage.

Curation is also great for telling a linear story, ie this is what happened as it unfolded. A great example of this is Mind’s Storify about the #MentalPatient outcry last year. They produced it really quickly after the event so once the twitter noise had died down, the media had somewhere central to look for information.

Other inspiring awareness-raising uses of Storify

Selection of DiabetesUK Storifys

Events

There are lots of examples of charities using curation to gather content around a fundraising event (runs / cycles / jumps etc). These are great ways of connecting with the fundraisers doing the event as well as their supporters. Take a look at BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride 2013.

Events such as conferences, meetings, parties, lectures, galas are prime for curation. You can add so much value to an event by showing behind the scenes, what participants got out of the event as well as general comments and pictures.

SoundDelivery produced an excellent Storify of the Social Media Exchange, not just the usual collection of tweets and resources from a conference. It punctuated the sections with a couple of sentences giving context. They included video, photos, Vines and audio to bring the day to life. They also added links to other useful resources which had been mentioned on the day. It is quite long but it’s the kind of Storify you’ll go back to again and again for inspiration.

Grayson Perry’s Radio 4 Reith Lecture last year was a brilliant example of live blogging. Links, pictures and comments were all being added in real time alongside the 40 minute programme. It generated a rich experience.

Other curation examples

NCVO's Pinterest boards

Top tips for content curation

  • Have fun and be creative. You don’t always have to produce content which is related to your cause (for example Beat Blood Cancer’s Laugh for Leukaemia joke competition). Reward your supporters with content they’ll like.
  • Do you have any linear (success) stories you could tell? Think about Rethink’s Find Mike – this is perfect for curation as it started small, got lots of press and social media coverage and then had a happy ending.
  • Think about the stories and messages you have within your organisation, which would work told in this way? What assets (video / photos / comments etc) do you have which could be collected together to tell a story? Curating just tweets isn’t enough.
  • Does your audience use Storify (or other similar sites)? If you don’t know, ask them. Also look at how many views and followers similar organisations have if they are on Storify. If your audience are not there, would you reach more people by using your blog for curation?
  • Invite supporters to contribute. Don’t forget to tell them they’re included and ask them to share.
  • Be selective about what you include. It’s not curation if you include everything.
  • Devote time to get the skills within your team. Look at lots of examples to help you understand how you could best use curation.
  • Don’t underestimate how much time it takes. It’s hard to get it right.
  • Include a donate link / button if this is relevant (eg Save the Children’s Philippines response).

Don’t forget to promote your Storify channel (if you have one) prominently on your website. If you have share follow us / join us buttons Storify should be included alongside all your other social media channels (NB I didn’t find anyone doing this, even those with successful channels). People won’t follow you if they don’t know you are there.

Oxfam's share buttons on their homepage

Conclusions

Curation is generally free but time consuming. It takes practice to do it well but it is a great way of re-using content which has a short lifespan.

Further reading

Please do share your examples and top tips as a comment or via Twitter and I’ll add them here. There must be loads of examples of other museums or galleries doing interesting things with curation.

Can I help you?

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you think about how to use your content. I am a freelance web editor and can help you give your communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.

Make your errors useful

Error messages are so often given little thought when re-launching a website but actually they could be one of your most visited pages. It’s worth spending some time on them to get them right. Turn them into positive pages by making them sound like they were written by a person rather than automatically generated and making them useful, maybe even fun. Here are some examples of 404 (page not found) errors from big charities and companies.

404 – computer says no

No branding, robotic language (‘the requested resource has not been found’), assumption that it is the user’s fault (‘please ensure you have typed the address correctly’), no alternative links, this is a desperate, desperate place to find yourself. This charity’s error page could have been marginally worse if the heading had been in red.

The requested resource has not been found

A confusing error is sometimes worse. This example says error three times and gives a code which is meaningless to the user. We don’t know whether we are seeing this as a result of a technical problem or  a broken link? To ‘go back’ is the only option given.

error, error, error - repeated three times

Be helpful and approachable

WaterAid make it very clear what has happened (‘file or page not found’) and what they want you to do (email).
Page or file not found

Oxfam’s 404 works through some solutions (‘here are some tips which might help’) alongside a confused goat.

Oxfam - oops, sorry

The British Heart Foundation’s 404 starts with a sorry, has a please and lots of ideas for alternative destinations (presumably based on the most common interactions).

Lots of options on the BHF 404

Connect with your cause

RNLI’s error message connects the error to their strengths. They have a picture of a man looking through binoculars and text which says: ‘We’re sorry – we can’t seem to find the page you’re looking for. That’s a shame, as we’re usually quite good at navigation.’ Nice.

RNLI's we're usually quite good at navigation

Missing People’s 404 does something similar: ‘Page not found, neither is Thi Nguyen’ then full details about the missing person.

Page not found, neither is Thi

Add personality

Dog’s Trust have bags of personality online (see their brilliant fetch (rather than search) button). DT’s 404 page has a cute dog, friendly heading (‘Oops – this page isn’t here’) and a pointer to the site map and other links. Their technical fault is even better.

Error message from Dog's Trust - cute dog

Of course, animal charities have more potential to add personality / fun / cute pictures than say a health charity. Blue Cross say ‘Oooooops’ and have a snoozing cat. RSPCA say ‘Whoops’ and ‘Looks like a dog may have run off with that page. Sorry about that. Perhaps he’s buried the page out the back?’

A nice picture is a good way of brightening up an error page, even better if it’s of something relevant. Here, the BBC’s 404 page has gone retro with our old friend the clown dusted down from the 70s, now with 404 written on the chalk board – genius.

BBC error page - 1970s retro with clown

Lego’s 404 is just weird.

Lego gremlin pulling the plug

How do you match up?

Go check your error pages:

  • are they helpful?
  • do they generate a positive reaction?
  • could you add an image?
  • is the language clear and approachable?
  • are there clear links to get people back on track?

Think about what you can do to improve your user experience. Reward people for finding this ‘secret’ page rather than punishing them with an unhelpful, dull page.

While you’re there, check errors in forms. Are you nicely hand-holding to help people complete a purchase, enquiry or donation or SHOUTING AT THEM for making a mistake? (See previous post on donate forms for some examples.)

Want more?

If you need more inspiration for dull vs fun error messages, just do a search for 404 in google images or look at Wikipedia’s page on 404.

Comments?

I looked at hundreds of charity error pages in the interests of research and these were the most inspiring I found. Please do share your tips and favourite examples (good and bad). Leave a comment, go on.

Optimise your donation forms

Your donation forms should be the most thought about and tweaked pages on your site. If they are not working well for you now, take some time to review their effectiveness using these top tips. A few small changes to usability and presentation could increase donations.

This post focuses on single donations rather than regular giving.

Lots of donate buttons

Barnardo’s / Nomensa

Yesterday, brilliant web agency Nomensa shared news about work they have done with Barnardo’s leading to a 17% increase in donations. Analysis showed that people were ‘not completing their online donation journey’. They researched audience types and made changes to functionality, language and a simplified the donation journey. In the case study on Netimperative (which sadly doesn’t include screenshots to see the before and after) they say:

“The language used was adapted to include all target audiences, using a genuine emotive tone, supported with specific information to explain how donations are used. The donation journey was simplified, making it easier for the visitor to reach a gift point and rather than free form value boxes, amount guides were provided that offered a choice of donation levels.

“Instead of simply allowing potential donors to key in the amount they want to give, we suggested a series of amounts that they could donate, from a choice of £25, £50 and £100. We used emotive language for the content on the giving page and included additional information to explain in detail what each of the amounts will be used for, and by doing this, we found that there was in increase average donation values.”

Online donations – benchmarking

Last year I did some work for a big charity, benchmarking their online donation process against 13 other highstreet-name charities. It looked at design and functionality of donating online. It was fascinating to see the standardised prominence and design of the donation process but also to see that some charities were doing it more smartly than others. Here are some of my findings.

Prominence of ‘Donate’

All of the charities had a very clear and simple link to a donate section on their homepages. Often the Donate tabs were a different colour from the other navigation buttons or highlighted with a graphic (as seen in these examples from Sightsavers, Macmillan, Marie Curie and Oxfam). These were generally the last item (left to right) on the navigation bar.

How donate appears in navigation

Three charities also included a prominent space for a donation form on their homepages, all in the top third of the page (see examples from NSPCC and Mencap). These enabled a quick gateway to the process for making a single or regular donation (although Mencap only allowed a one-off donation this way) and made ‘the ask’ of soliciting a donation significantly more prominent than on other sites.

Quick donations on homepages

100% of the charities surveyed had the capacity to accept single donations via their website. For most this was the top option in the navigation of their Donate sections. All called it ‘Single donation’ with the exception of BHF, RNLI and Macmillan (Make a one-off donation), Guide Dogs (Donate via PayPal), Mencap (Make a donation).

Donation amounts

Half of all of organisations had radio buttons giving between three and five amount options and a free box for other. Bottom of the ranges were £2, £5, £10, £15, £18. Top amounts ranged from £20, £25, £50, £100, £250. Five organisations had a set default donation amount. This ranged from £5-£50, average was £19.

In terms of persuasive design this is effective as it sets a precedent for an expected amount. Donors are more likely to accept a default or increase the amount they had intended to give close to these amounts if an expectation is set.

Oxfam's single donation options

The form

Of the 11 organisations who solicited donations through an online form, five had a long one-page form. Other forms ranged from 2-5 screens, average 4. Good practice included ‘step 3 of 5’ type information showing progress through the donation process.

Gold star good practice went to Oxfam who’s single donation form is very clear. It matches the donation amounts in radio buttons with ‘this money will buy’ information in the right-hand column. The gift aid information is clear with an example of what £50 turns into with gift aid. The form is uncluttered and easy to use. The submit button at the end is clearly labelled ‘Donate’.

How errors are communicated is important. If your abandon rate is high, it may be that your form doesn’t work properly or is confusing. Have a go at filling in the form wrongly and see what the experience is. Does your error page or message reassure people or shout at them (as in this scary red example below). No one likes being shouted at, especially when they are trying to do something good. Every stage of your process should be recognising that they are doing something special.

Angry looking error message

Top tips for online donations

  • Make donating as quick and simple as possible.  Is the donation button / page easy to find? Is it a different colour and in an obvious place? Is it on every page and repeated next to content which is likely to inspire a donation? Is it simple to donate? Do you really need a telephone number and date of birth?
  • Include suggested amounts, use radio buttons. Set the lowest amount higher than your average donation for a month to see what difference it makes.
  • Check that your online donations form is optimised for mobile giving. More and more people will donate using their mobile. Try Google’s HowToGetMo site and read this useful article on designing a better mobile checkout process.
  • Include a quick donation option on your homepage and a prominent link from every page on the site
  • Give the same prominence to donating on your social media channels.
  • Check your error messages – think about how to encourage people to go and fix problems if they have missed fields or filled them in wrong. They are likely to abandon a donation if they don’t get it right first time.
  • How do you say thank you after a donation? Do you follow up the form with an email? How quickly? Do you give donors other ways to get involved or words (such as a tweet) to help them share what they have just done? Can you thank them in creative and memorable ways? Keep your donors warm and make it easy for them to get involved.

Analyse what works for you

What works will be different from charity to charity but good design, usability, accessibility and persuasiveness should be key to online donations.

Find out what works for you by using all the data available. Analyse your web stats, donation patterns, abandoned transactions and feedback. Be your own mystery shopper and see what the donation experience is like on your site (or get your friends and family to donate and watch how they get on). You could also try donating to some of the highstreet-name charities and see what that experience is like. What can you learn from them?

Make changes and see what the impact is by comparing the data. You can always change anything back.

Your views

If you have examples or insights into good practice, please do share them here. Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Can I help you?

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you review your donation processes or think about how to make your asks more persuasive. I am a freelance web editor and trainer and can help you give your communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.