Creative ways to illustrate data and stats on social media

Stats and data can be very dry but with some attractive or fun images, you can make them interesting. On social media you have a second or so to attract someone’s attention. A dull text tweet or post may get limited views or clicks. (See how much more engaging a tweet with an image to illustrate a statistic is: Breast Cancer Now vs British Heart Foundation prevalence tweets.) Whereas one with a creative image may encourage someone to pause and read more.

Here are some examples of tweets which include graphics to illustrate data or statistics.

Count-ups

Totalisers are a great way to illustrate fundraising targets and successes (see Richard Sved’s Blue Peter blog post if you are not sure). But count-up stats can work for other things too. Think, number of hedgehogs rescued or Big Knit hats knitted.

Many of RNLI’s lifeboat stations have their own twitter accounts which they use to share details of launches. This example from RNLI in Poole shows the running total of launches over the year and since 1865 as displayed on a noticeboard in the station.

Noticeboard showing daily and overall total of RNLI Poole's shouts

Maps

Everyone loves a map.

The London Fire Brigade share details of the incidents they are dealing with. This tweet uses a map to show where an incident is happening. Other tweets use photos from the location.

London Fire Brigade: map showing location of an incident

Macmillan Coffee have an amazing searchable map showing where their coffee mornings are happening:

Macmillan Coffee: map showing the number of coffee mornings on Jersey and Guernsey

Maps can go even further to bring an event to life, especially if they show the remoteness or danger of a place. This tweet from a boat enthusiast uses an app called ShipFinder to illustrate an RNLI shout off the coast of John O’Groats.

Map showing 2 lifeboats with a boat in trouble

When using third party data, do check the data protection and copyright issues.

Here’s another nice use of maps (I like maps) from the Met Office who are fab at social media. It contains lots of information. There’s a background image to give a sense of the weather as well as UK map with blobs showing different summaries for areas with text over the top.

Met Office: tweeting the weather forecast summary

Infographics

Infographics are still a strong way to present data. If done well they can tell a story.

This graphic from the Fawcett Society shows the number of references to men and women in economics coverage.

Fawcett Society: graphic showing the representation of women in discussions about economics

The Big Issue Foundation regularly share this graphic of their impact. There is a lot to take in but it presented in an engaging and attractive way.

TBIF: infographics showing basic facts about BI's work

This tweet by Health Foundation responded to the Chancellor’s Spending Review. It clearly and simply illustrated their data. Unfortunately it doesn’t link anywhere for more information.

The Health Foundation: graph showing decline in government spending on health

Stats can often just come across as numbers. Shelter’s Christmas campaign focuses on the 100,000 children who will be homeless this Christmas. This tweet helps to illustrate what that huge number actually means. A giant 4 on a blackboard brings it to life.

Shelter: the equivalent of 4 children in every school will be homeless this Xmas

This JustGiving blog post on the power of infographics shares lots more examples and gives tips about how to produce them.

Other

Graphics don’t have to be professionally done or cost lots of money. Howard Lake’s graphic traffic course shares lots of great tips about using anything and everything to bring your data to life.

This BHF pie chart of a cake showing portion sizes is really clear and eye catching.

BHF: pie chart made from a pie

This hand-drawn image from John Sutherland, a Met Police Officer connects the reader with the issues on a human level. It generated lots of interaction including some very lengthy conversations as comments underneath.

Hand-drawn picture showing factors influencing a young man's knife crime

Top tips

  • Accessibility – remember that not everyone will be able to see your graphic. Include the data in the tweet or post in full or as a summary with a link.
  • Links – include a link so people can read more or take some action.
  • Source – check and reference the source for your statistics and third party graphics. Also think carefully about sharing sensitive data about live events. Get permissions or preserve anonymity where appropriate.
  • Use your assets – do you have graphics in print, someone in the team with lovely handwriting or drawing skills? Maybe you have other tools lying around such as lego or magnetic letters?
  • Check your sizes – use this size guide from Sprout Social.
  • Have fun and be creative!

Add your examples

Please add your favourite examples in the comments box. I am especially keen to find more count-up and creative graphics as I couldn’t find very many good examples.

Have graphics led to more engagement for you? How much time or budget do they take to produce? Have you got top tips for producing graphics on a shoestring? Please add your comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Can I help?

I help charities and non-profits with their content. Whether you are looking for training for the team, copywriting or  input into your content strategy, please get in touch.

We are all storytellers

We are all storytellers… or should be. That was the message from today’s Digital Storytelling conference by Media Trust (see the #DigiStorytelling conference Storify for highlights and curated tweets by Seen) . I picked up lots of inspiring examples and tips to encourage us all to become effective storytellers.

Moroccan storyteller surrounded by avid listeners

Storyteller with captive audience in Marrakesh

Unlike the Moroccan storyteller above, digitally you probably only have 10seconds or less to engage someone in your story. So you’d better pull people in pretty quickly. A good story has:

  • clear, compelling narrative
  • emotional resonance
  • aesthetic pleasure.

But it is also authentic, appropriate for the medium and has a purpose. Most of the conference was focussed on the story rather than the medium. But two channels came out as strong deliverers of story.

Blogging

There was a lot of talk about blogging at the conference. The main example which stood out was mental health campaigning charity Time to Change. They hand over their digital voice to volunteer bloggers very prominently. They work to facilitate the sharing of real experience, opinion and emotion by allowing bloggers to write directly and people to respond with comments. This is so much more powerful, engaging and real than a case study. Here’s just one great example: Blogging about mental health has given me a way to talk.

Blogging about mental health

I don’t know of many other charities who hand over this space so confidently (albeit with some editing and pre-moderation of comments). Please do share, if you know of others.

Video

We all know about YouTube. You make a video, add it to your channel, tweet about it, get some views, job done. But it is now much more than this. It is about participation. Apparently (according to YouTube) it is the fastest growing social network in the world. To get it right, you need to engage with YouTube stars. These are the people with 20,000 followers. You need them to help you reach the millions out there. This isn’t about going viral but surfing on an existing network.

You also need to be a regular contributor, adding new engaging and interesting videos often. They don’t have to be slick or expensive. They don’t have to be corporate. Use the authentic voices from around your organisation.

Here are some examples of YouTube storytelling:

And here’s a nice example of video blogging by Diabetes UK: Diaz tells her own story.

Twitter?

Can you tell a story in 140 characters? Yes, you can write powerfully, you can engage, draw people in to make them to want read more or watch a video.  This tweet from Shelter uses 15 words to tell a story: “It’s hit us really, really hard.’ Karen, Gary & their 3 young children are homeless.”

'It's hit us really, really hard.

You can now use instantly appearing images tell your story. This tweet stood out as the picture of three medals and a poppy was so striking. Tweet says: “Medals,tick. Shoes,tick. Ready march with pride with @oneeyedsi66. Cenotaph Sunday will be humbling @BlindVeterans”

medals and poppy tweet

If you want to tell a longer story, use #hashtags. See Walsall Council’s Hour Day as a great example.

Get storytelling

So the future is authentic and engaging digital storytelling. Take a look at your own tweets / videos / blogs – are they compelling, insightful and emotional? Do you need to go back to basics? It can be real skill to get this right.

There are a few guides and experts out there to help:

Other examples

Please do share other examples, guides or tips about digital storytelling and the difference is has made to the way you communicate about your organisation.

Legacy fundraising – tips for persuasive and engaging web content

It’s Remember a Charity week so there is lots being done to inspire people to leave a gift to their favourite charities in their wills. There’s lots of noise about it on twitter via their pick your moment campaign (#pickyourmoment) and many partner charities are promoting RaC week on their homepages.

RaC week is a great as it helps charities talk about legacies. But online legacy fundraising is difficult. It is hard to pitch tone of voice and terminology to a wide audience where saying the right thing around a sensitive subject is important. Knowing where to place it on the website and how to promote it, is equally challenging. What works offline (in person or DM to segmented audiences) may not work online.

I did some benchmarking for a large charity about their digital legacy fundraising, comparing their online presence with their peers. Here’s what I learnt through the process.

<2017 update – Read on, this page is still useful but once you’d finished, go to 10 tips for great online legacy fundraising which looks at 2017 digital trends and research on over 50 charity websites>

Everyone can do it

Even small charities (and especially small charities as they are likely to have passionate supporters) should have a page on their website reminding supporters about legacies. Don’t be frightened about the subject. You don’t have to use the D word. There are lots of examples of charities producing inspiring and persuasive legacy content listed here you can learn from.

You should also think about setting up ‘in memory fundraising’ which is becoming equally standard. (See Much Loved or Just Giving.)

Terminology and location is important

When I researched this, I found that the use of the word legacy as a heading and within copy was not widespread in the sector. (Equally wills was written with lowercase w). The most common section name was ‘Leave a gift in your will’, but also ‘Gifts in wills’, ‘A gift in your will’, ‘Leave money in your will’. Nice to see the persuasive use of ‘your’ here. It is important to think about your audience and ensure you are using words which are appropriate for them. For example, in AgeUK’s case the use of ‘leave a legacy‘ is right.

The majoring of legacy pages were placed in the Donate section. A legacy is a donation albeit a future one. It is not fundraising. Placing legacies in a Donate section, generally meant this content was two clicks from the homepage.

You can be persuasive and sensitive at the same time

Just because you are being sensitive doesn’t mean you have to be dull. Yes, you are making someone think about their own death but the content you write can be engaging and persuasive, bring the subject to life.

Chances are, visitors are at your legacy pages because they already care about what you do. People visiting these pages are likely to be interested in your cause rather than interested in legacies searching for a charity to support. So your page needs to persuade visitors that remembering your charity in their will is a good thing as well as an easy thing to do. So simply, it should cover the impact of a legacy, a thank you for what they are about to do and easy access to the information they need to progress.

Think about why someone would leave you a gift. Are they likely to have had experience of your cause or used your services? Are they already supporting your work? If you have this information about previous legacy donors, you can tweak your content accordingly. The big times that people update their wills are marriage, birth of children, illness, retirement, old age. Could you do more to connect with people at these stages?

Your opening line is important. Many charities start off by saying how much of their income comes from legacies and the difference this money has made (eg BHF: Since we were founded in 1961, donations in Wills have helped us invest £1 billion in funding ground-breaking research, providing vital health information and supporting those affected by heart disease). But the whole page is an opportunity to persuade. Let’s look at some examples.

Beanstalk’s remember us in your will page talks very clearly and frequently about the impact of a gift on children. Their opening line says: “Leaving a gift to Beanstalk in your will is a way of leaving a love of reading to children for many years to come”. They use the whole page to talk about their work, with a small ask.

Beanstalk - Leaving a gift to Beanstalk in your will is a way of leaving a love of reading to children for many years to come

Refugee Action’s leave a legacy page is another nice example of a gentle ask with clear information about the difference a gift will make.

The Migraine Trust’s opening line is also inspiring: “After taking care of loved ones, consider The Migraine Trust in your Will and see how a piece of paper can do truly amazing things.” The rest of the page talks about generosity, the impact of even a small gift, how grateful they are and how much of their income comes from legacies (51%). It ends with what to do next. It is a well crafted page.
The Migraine Trust - After taking care of loved ones, consider The Migraine Trust in your Will and see how a piece of paper can do truly amazing things.

For smaller charities, there may be a worry that the organisations may not exist when the legacy is processed. Prisoners Abroad address this head-on. They reinforce that they will be needed long into the future and a legacy will make a difference. (“Prisoners Abroad is going to be needed for years to come. Prison conditions worldwide are likely to get worse not better. The demand of our services is likely to increase significantly.”)  Their short page is concise and clear.

Prisoners Abroad - Prisoners Abroad is going to be needed for years to come. Prison conditions worldwide are likely to get worse not better. The demand of our services is likely to increase significantly.

RAF Benevolent Fund don’t mince their words when they say: “You’ll probably never meet the people who will benefit from a gift in your will but they’re part of the family because they’re RAF. Supporting each other through life’s challenges is what family is all about, and that’s what the RAF Benevolent Fund does for the RAF family.” They write very clearly and directly about who a legacy can help. Rather than saying ‘we get this much from legacies’, they say: “One in three people who turn to us for help owe the support they receive to the kindness of those who left the RAF Benevolent Fund a gift in their wills” which is much more powerful.

RAF Benevolent Fund

Personal stories work well here too. They say, look, people like you have already done this. A good example is Shelter’s ‘why I’m leaving a legacy’ stories.

Shelter - case studies

What about other types of organisations? People can have close relationships with institutions such as museums, art galleries, churches, schools, city farms, clubs which means that legacy giving may be worth promoting. For example, Warwick Arts Centre says on their website “leaving a legacy allows individuals to make a contribution at a level that accurately reflects their fondness for Warwick Arts Centre”. Churches also get a lot of income via legacies – see this example from Disley Parish Church. So, having a page about legacy fundraising shouldn’t just be for cause-related charities. Organisations such as the above should recognise that patrons may want to show their appreciation in this way and promote the option online.

These are all inspiring examples. These pages work well to connect their causes with legacy donations and communicate the need and impact well with their audiences.

You don’t need pages and pages

The average number of pages within legacy sections was 7. Useful content included:

  • sample legal wording for a will including charity name, address and charity number
  • information about how to add to an existing will / how to make a codicil
  • information for executors
  • previous names of the charity
  • how to leave gifts of items
  • pledge forms to so supporters can let you know they have included you in their will
  • FAQs / jargon buster about types of gift
  • downloadable guides
  • how to calculate the value of your estate (see example from Epilepsy Society).

It is useful to have contact details where supporters can ask questions. Avoid legacydept@xx.org.uk or similar. This is a sensitive subject and it is important to come across as approachable as possible. Use a named address (mary.jones@xx.org.uk) or friendly department address (askusanything@xx.org.uk).

If you have request forms or contact pages, craft your automatic pages to say thank you and to explain what happen next (eg ‘you’ll receive it in 5 days’). Do all you can to maintain the good experience.

It can be fun

Being jolly about legacies has to be right for your audience. It can be easy to get it wrong. Whether it is right will depend on your cause and your brand.

Macmillan Cancer comes across as warm and approachable. Of course they deal with death everyday so it’s not such a shocking topic for them. They have a fun and slightly quirky wills: fact or fiction video alongside case studies, how-tos and other information on their legacy pages. This is under the heading ‘making a will is easier than you think’ and gets lots of messages across in just two minutes.

You can use social media to talk about legacies

But get the tone right. This automatic tweet generated by Shelter’s legacy page is really nicely written:

Automatic tweet from Shelter

If you are going to craft automatic tweets (rather than just relying on the title of your page to generate them), then think about how the tweet comes across. It will be sent from someone’s address and meant for their followers. Therefore it is not your tone of voice which you should be using. So you could try using more direct language to demonstrate an action you want others to copy (eg I just ordered @Shelter’s Will Writing pack to help me remember them in my will).

Tweets and Facebook posts can be used to talk about legacies and the difference they make. This is a nice example from RNIB:

RNIB tweet - “Little pieces of my life being put back together again". Legacies change lives, what difference will you make?

Be careful about writing about legacy success. The character limit and informality of twitter is especially dangerous here as this example shows (“Thank you to everyone who leaves gifts in their Wills. We received one this morning. Time to hoot the celebration horn”). Ick.

Legacy tweet

Conclusions and top tips

So, there’s lots you can do to make your legacy pages more interesting and persuasive. You have a real opportunity to engage existing supporters to take this step. Talk about your cause in a meaningful way and celebrate the difference a gift like this can make.

  • Your legacy homepage should show the impact of legacies, thank donors and clearly link to next steps.
  • Think about why someone would leave you a gift and use persuasive words about your cause which mean something to them.
  • Talk about the difference a gift will make – what impact might it make.
  • Be generous in your thanks without being too gushy. It is a significant and deeply personal thing that someone is remembering you in this important document so do say thank you.

Comments?

What other great examples are there? Who has gone too far? Please do share your ideas and inspirations here.

If you want some help thinking about how to maximise your own legacy pages – please do get in touch.

<2017 update10 tips for great online legacy fundraising>