How I will Improve my Online Engagement

I attended a CharityComms conference on Online Engagement yesterday with really interesting speakers, including Bertie Bosredon, Damien Austin-Walker, Jacqui O’Beirne and Maryam Mossavar amongst others.

Topics included ‘A Strategic Approach to Online Engagement’, ‘Content is King’, ‘Engaging Donors with Online Video’, ‘Acquisition and Innovation – Ways to Find and Convert New Supporters Online’ and many more.

Here is a brilliant video that Brad Smith, Assistant Digital Media Manager at the British Red Cross shared during his workshop on Using Metrics to Improve Website Engagement. It’s food for thought…

You can read the Storify of the conference in all its glory here.

Conferences are always quite full-on so it’s important to reflect on the discussions a day or two later and write down a list of things that really stood out and which will help you to be more effective in your role.

Here are five things I took away from the conference that I wish to implement:

1. Make a more concerted effort to really segment our email marketing audiences and create content that is useful and interesting to them

2. Be more customer centric and create content marketing to appeal to our social media audience

3. Look at improving our YouTube channel and add an action call to encourage more subscribers

4. Implement Ben Holts’s five steps to improve a digital campaign

5. Start measuring our social media more effectively and start using Google Analytics more

If you were at the conference, what did you take away from it? Let me know in the comments field.

The Rule of Thirds

Twitter cartoon from Cartoon Stock

Twitter turned seven last week. Yes, seven! And although it has been around for close on a decade now, it is amazing how many people still do not know how to use it effectively.

It’s really quite simple. Talk to and with people, not at people and use the rule of thirds:

  • One third of your tweets should be about your own news and sharing your own links and content.
  • One third should be about engaging with others – talking to people/organisations, asking questions, answering questions, retweeting and generally just having conversations.
  • One third should be about sharing other’s content that is related to your field or sector.

By using the rule of thirds you ensure that your social media presence is balanced and interesting. After all, who wants to listen to someone talking about themselves all the time?

Embarrassing meeting situations… we’ve all had them

I came back from a meeting yesterday where I had managed to knock over a jug of milk in a rather posh restaurant. It went all over the grey carpet and my handbag and was, of course, rather embarrassing.

So, naturally, when I got home I tweeted about it and the responses that followed from others are priceless.

My personal favourites include:



Rochelle (2)

So how do you recover? Acknowledge the situation and take control of it. Perhaps it is through humour, apologising or following up with an explanation if you only realise after the meeting. We all make mistakes…it’s how we deal with them that matters.

Please take a look at the hashtag #SoDoIGetTheJob and share your embarrassing meeting moments- it’s really quite cathartic!

Take a look at the Storify to read other’s embarrassing moments and be warned…they WILL make you laugh out loud!

Just what is Gamification and could it work for you?

Last week I attended NFPtweetup where the topic was on gamification. Although the term was coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, it’s only since 2010 that it started to become popular.

So just what is ‘gamification’?

According to WikipediaGamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning.

Basically, gamification is about rewarding behaviour  through incentives using elements such as points, badges and leader boards. It’s not really all that new either, if you think about it….we’ve been doing it for years through raffles, tombola’s and off-line competitions.

David Whitney, Coding Technical Architect at JustGiving, who was on the discussion panel at NFPtweetup recommends reading Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers.

So who, in the charity sector, is using gamification well?

Dryathalon medal

Dryathalon medal

Cancer Research UK – Ed Cervantes-Watson, Senior Innovation Delivery Manager at CRUK, spoke about Dryathalon at NFPtweetup and how successful it has been for them. They spent six months researching their target audience (young men) and came up with a concept that would work for them: giving up alcohol for January and rewarding them along the way with badges and a leader board. The result, to date, is 35,000 Dryalthletes and £3 million and counting.

Also take a look at their new project Cell Slider.

VinspiredBig Society’s Big Mouth project, powered by the volunteering charity, Vinspired asks young people to discuss the problems they face in their community then share ideas to make it better. Points are awarded for return log-ins, starting projects and polls, voting on polls and commenting on discussions etc. The more you interact, the more points you get and the higher you move up the leader board.

Greenpeace – you have probably already heard of the hugely successful VW: The Dark Side campaign where Greenpeace used gamification to pressure VW to drop their opposition of key environmental laws. Those who signed up to the campaign embarked on ‘Jedi Training’  and earned points for referring the campaign to friends. The more friends they referred who signed up , the more points they earned. They also earned points from views of their personal URL. The result was over 500,000 people campaigned, forcing VW to commit to making cleaner and more efficient cars.

Do you have examples of other charities using gamification well? Leave a comment below.

So, taking the elements of gamification, do you think it would work for your charity?

You can read the Storify of the NFPtweetup here and also an excellent ‘Best Bits‘ from a Live Q & A discussion on Gamification from Guardian Voluntary Sector Network.

Vine – You’ve only got six seconds so make it count

No doubt by now you will be familiar with the latest social media platform on the block, Vine.

Vine is an App that lets you film a six second video from your phone or tablet that then plays on a continuous loop. No video editing skills are required, which makes it an attractive option particularly for small charities that may not have a budget for videos. The App is also free so all that’s required is a bit of time, imagination and creativity.

As Vine is owned by Twitter, expect some investment in the near future. Currently it is not available yet on Android but that should change fairly quickly. At the moment it is still quite a basic App in terms of its capabilities but some charities have been using it in really powerful and clever ways.

You can see lots of examples of charities using Vine in my Storify, I heard it through the (grape) vine. 


So what makes a good Vine?

From the many examples I have seen so far, a good vine is one that:

Has a beginning, middle and end

A video should tell a story and stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Think about the case studies you have on your website and see if you can turn any of those into a Vine. Can you capture their journey in just six seconds?

Has a clear message

It’s the elevator pitch concept. Think first about what your message is then work out how you can convey that message in just six seconds. Keep it simple with one message at a time.

Has a call to action

After watching your Vine, what do you want people to do? Perhaps it’s making a text donation, signing up for a fundraising challenge or just visiting your website. Whatever it is be sure it is clearly shown at the end of the Vine. Although the video plays on a continuous loop, viewers shouldn’t have to watch it three times just to read the call to action.

Is visually appealing

Vine has the ability to record sound but most charity Vines I’ve seen so far are soundless. Often a song or a voiceover will pull on our emotions but images can, of course, do this too. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and when you only have six seconds, a powerful image needs to work as hard as it can. If you are using images as stills, ensure they are high-resolution and in focus.

Offers personalisation

Some charities are already using Vine to thank their donors, campaigners and fundraisers by using their names or Twitter handles with a thank you message. It is a wonderful, inexpensive way of making supporters feel special and appreciated.

Lets  your personality shine

Social media has already enabled us to give a personality to our charities by letting us engage directly with the people we support and the people and organisations that support us. So why not let Vine do the same? Show your supporters the people behind the charity with ‘Meet the Team’, ‘A day in the life of…’  or ‘Funny things that happen in the office’ Vines. After all, people invest in people so let your staff shine!

Managing Risk and Reputation

I attended a Brand Breakfast this morning on Managing Risk and Reputation, which was kindly hosted by the British Red Cross. Brand Breakfast is a quarterly event organised by Dan Dufour and Serena Donne and is supported by CharityComms.

In this age of social media where brands are more exposed than ever before, it is increasingly important to manage the risks that threaten your reputation.

The first speaker was Jill McCall from Cadbury who gave us this sage advice.

You need to build a brand that can withstand crisis.

Jill spoke a lot about heritage and how the brands that people trust are the ones whose employees live and embody the values of the company.

She also spoke about the Halo and Horns effect and how we think of brands as ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’ – we assign a personality to the brand.

Adrian Thomas, Head of External Relations at the British Red Cross, shared case studies with us about how they have managed risk and reputation. One example was how they were accused of ‘cancelling Christmas‘ because they don’t stock religious Christmas cards in their shops and how they turned ‘pantogate’ around by using their blog, and other platforms, to explain why it is so important for them as an organisation to be neutral.

So what did I take away from this seminar?

1. An open, honest culture is essential

2. Staff should be comfortable to highlight risks, which should be acted upon

3. When a crisis hits, be open, honest and responsive. Most of all, be human.

4. Good relationships with journalists can help weather the storm in times of crisis

5. Apologise, if needed.

Whatever you do, never do this…

If it stinks, put a lid on it

You can read the Storify of the Brand Breakfast here.

Developing a Communications Strategy

I attended a Communications Strategy and Planning seminar a couple of weeks ago where Joe Barrell from Eden Stanley spoke about developing a communications strategy for a non-profit. Joe is working with CharityComms to put together a Best Practice guide that will not only define what a communications strategy is but will also set out how to go about developing one.

My experience of working in small charities, and speaking to people in my Sole Comms group, is that not only do we often lack the time and resources to put into place a communications strategy, but often we lack the skills too so I am really pleased that this guide will go beyond just the theory.

You can read my Storify of the seminar here, which also included a presentation from Emma Harrison, Director of External Relations at Mencap, who presented ‘Towards an Integrated Approach at Mencap.’

Here are the five things I took away:

1. Keep it simple – your communications strategy should be clear, concise and memorable. It needs to say who you are communicating with, through which channels, what your message is and what you want your audience to think, feel or do about it.

2. Define your audiences – you cannot develop a communications strategy if you don’t know who you are talking to. Spend some time working on your audience persona’s and don’t generalise. The charities who communicate successfully are the ones who truly know their audiences and who build their strategy around audiences, not channels.

3. Get your messaging right – once you have defined your audiences, break down your objectives into relevant messages for each of those audiences. Tone of voice and style may change for each audience but your messaging should always have continuity and link back to core organisational objectives.

4. Define your channels – which channels (email, social media, PR etc) will be the most effective in reaching your defined audiences? There will probably be several for each audience type.

5. Measure and evaluate– make sure your objectives are measurable and define the tools that you will use to evaluate your success.

Helpful resources:

Developing a Communications Strategy by Knowhow NonProfit

Mission Critical: Crafting your Communications Strategy by CharityComms

Inspiring Women


As it is International Women’s Day I thought I would share with you the woman, working in the charity sector, who inspire me. And every single one of them embodies the quote above from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Laila Takeh – Head of Digital Engagement at Unicef

Rachel Beer – Founder of Beautiful World and NFPTweetup

Jude Habib – Founder of Sound Delivery

Zoe Amar – Head of Marketing and Business Development at LASA and Guardian Voluntary  Advisory panel member

Sylwia Presley – Social Media Advisor at NFP Voice and founder of Barcampnfp

Rochelle Dancel – a women of many, many talents who wears many hats, including producer, web designer and online marketing strategist.

Jennifer Begg – Digital Media Consultant and Trainer

Vicky Browning –  Director of CharityComms

Which women inspire you?

Harlem Shake Charity Videos

So…it seems the #CharityShakeOff  has uncovered a whole host of charity Harlem Shake videos. The hashtag on Twitter has seen them promote their moves so I thought I would put them all in one place for you all to see. I think it is fantastic that charities make the most of internet sensations by creating their own versions. It shows us that charities are made up of people, with personalities and passion, and people invest in people. So why not take a leaf out of their book and let your charity staff shine!

So then…who has the best moves? Use the comments section to tell me your favourite!

Macmillan (winner of the #CharityShakeOff)



Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

Canal & River Trust


BBC Children In Need ( on Vine)

WWF (I think the panda made them do it…)

St Oswald’s Hospice


Great examples of charity copy

I’ve been pinning great examples of charity copy (in my opinion) on Pinterest for a while now. Please take a look and leave comments on the pins that capture your interest, make you think or tug on your heartstrings. Or perhaps there are some which you don’t agree with…let’s get talking!

Find my Great Examples of Charity Copy Pinterest board here.