Have charity viral campaigns had their day?

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Resource Alliance to participate in a live debate, chaired by Fundraising UK’s Howard Lake, on whether charity viral campaigns have had their day. The debate was to launch the opening of registrations for their free virtual fundraising conference – Fundraising Online – which will take place on May 13 to 14.

My opponent Sean Triner, Pareto Fundraising director, debated for the motion saying that:

Viral campaigns are like lottery tickets. Every so often someone hits the jackpot. But for every winner there are tonnes of losers.

I argued against the motion, saying that it’s far too soon to say that these types of campaigns have had their day and that success means different things to different charities and the word ‘viral’ is actually damaging.

The debate has been covered by Fundraising and Philanthropy Australia  and you can watch/listen to the debate here:

I’d love to know if you agree with me that charity viral campaigns are only in their infancy, therefore they certainly have not had their day or whether you agree with Sean that they have already reached saturation. Please leave a comment below.

If I post a picture of a cat, will you read this?

I read this article today by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian, Comment is free on how no one will notice when the world ends because we’re so distracted by pictures of cats on the internet (and other things like a dress that’s blue/black/white/gold/who actually cares).

Speaking of cats… (well, I did promise you a picture if you read this – I think it’s praying for our souls).


My first reaction was: She has a point.

#TheDress trended on Twitter for two whole days. It’s had numerous articles written about it, including the BBC, The Independent etc, yet the atrocities of the world continued – Boko Haram posted a video of an execution, an opponent of Putin was murdered in front of the Kremlin not to mention ongoing conflict in Syria. But people weren’t really talking about that, were they? Are we so consumed by fluff on the internet that we’re forgetting to shout out about injustices or take action to stop atrocities?

Personally, I don’t think so. Actually, I think the ‘fluff’ is sometimes just what’s needed to take our minds off these atrocities – just for a moment. Not to forget, not to pretend it’s not happening but to give ourselves a break from the awfulness of the world and have a laugh or a ‘ahhhh’ or a ‘I think it’s white and gold’ moment.

And this made me think about charities.

There are so many charities who deal with stories of child abuse, of addiction and what that does to a person/family/society, stories of people with incurable diseases, stories of bullying, self-harm, depression, suicide… imagine if that’s all these charities ever talked about?

Would you listen?

I can guarantee you wouldn’t. You’d unfollow them on Twitter, hide their posts on Facebook, unsubscribe from their enewsletters and worse – stop supporting them.

And that’s why it’s so important to balance your communications. I know that sometimes charities find it difficult to have light-hearted posts (that aren’t about fundraising) because they think that it’s detracting from the seriousness of their work.

It’s not.

It’s the charities that are able to talk about all manner of things in the appropriate tone and voice, at the right time, that are so successful in their communications. Examples of these charities are: Cancer Research UK, Mind, Refugee Action, Anthony Nolan, Macmillan, War Child to name a few. In fact, I loved this from Macmillan:

The importance of personal branding in a digital age

We all have a digital footprint, whether we like it or not. Back in 2013, I presented on How to build a successful personal brand at 300 Seconds. These days, no matter what sector you work in, having a professional social media presence is vital. When applying for jobs, many recruiters will check your digital footprint to see how you present yourself on LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook.

Having a strong personal brand not only helps you to climb the career ladder but it can also open up a host of new opportunities, such as presenting at conferences, invites to events or even writing opportunities.

Photographer Charlotte Knee, who has worked with Masterchef’s Greg Wallace and Monica Galetti, Architect and TV presenter George Clarke and the Yammer team, interviewed me on the importance on personal branding and having a professional headshot. 


If you’re interested in having professional headshots, Charlotte is offering a 10% discount with the code CKPHS15. Email her at info@charlotteknee.com

Speaker opportunity at Media Trust’s Art of engagement conference

I’m delighted to be delivering a workshop on social media and growing your online communities with my colleague Helen Osborne at Media Trust’s Art of Engagement conference on 20 November.

There is a fantastic line up of speakers, including Jo Kerr from Girlguiding UK, Lewis Wiltshire from Twitter UK, Alexis Akwagyiram from BBC Africa and Holly Monks and Miranda Nagalingam from Comic Relief.

You could join us

Media Trust is running a ‘suggest a speaker’ opportunity on Twitter for the month of September, where they are encouraging people to nominate a person/organisation that they would like to see speaking at The Art of Engagement conference.

This isn’t a competition as such but rather an opportunity for the sector to help shape the programme and suggest interesting and innovative stories/campaigns/speakers that they would like to hear from.

The chosen nominee will then be offered a 10-minute slot in the enlightening talks part of the programme. To nominate someone, a campaign or an organisation just fill in this short survey.

Are you a Comms Hero?

If you work in Comms, in any sector, then the Comms Hero conference is for you. The lovely people over at Resource Housing have organised this conference, taking place on 13 May in Manchester, to share the ‘best of’ in Comms and Marketing. Best of all it’s delivered by comms people, for comms people. There’s a great line-up of speakers, including Dan Slee who helps head up the brilliant Comms2Point0.



I am delighted to be able to offer a free ticket, worth £150, to one lucky person to attend. If you’d like a chance to win, please leave a comment on this blog post, starting with, “I’d love to win a ticket to Comms Hero because….”. A winner will be drawn at random on Friday 9 May at 10 am. Please note this prize is for a conference place only and does not include travel.

To find out more about the conference programme, visit the website. Follow Comms Hero on Twitter and keep an eye on the hashtag #commshero for lots of tips.

What do charities and a Tube Strike have in common?

Tube staff are striking over plans to close down a number of ticket offices, leading to job losses of almost 1,000. So what does this have to do with charities?

Technically, nothing. Tube line info maps on the other hand…

A very clever and serious tweet from Save the Children, highlighting the crisis in Syria:

Save the children

And this one from Macmillan to highlight that their helpline is open, even if tube lines are closed:


Leonard Cheshire Disability highlights the inaccessability of tube stations for wheelchair users and brings home the message that for them, it’s like everyday is a tube strike day:

Leonard Cheshire

Have you spotted any others?


Being Mindful in a Digital World

I attended my second BarcampNFP on 20 March on a Volunteer Blogger ticket. For those of you who don’t know, BarcampNFP brings together people from the charity sector with people from Digital and Tech in sectors such as IT, Government, Arts and Culture for one day in an ‘unconference’ format. The idea is that we all collaborate and learn from each other through informal presentations and hands-on workshops.

As I had a blogger ticket I live tweeted all my sessions and Storified the day, which you can read here. There were some really excellent sessions and my favourites included ‘The future of charities’, which was facilitated by Anne McCrossan and Matt Collins, ‘The use of digital in storytelling’ by Jude Habib and ‘How bloggers can say the things we can’t’ by Diabetes UK’s Amy Burton.

The session that resonated with me the most was ‘How to avoid burnout’. It was a really cathartic session where, it seems, in this digital age most of us find it near impossible to switch off. The 9 to 5 job just doesn’t exist in social media and digital and we had a good discussion about how we are our own worst enemies – checking our organisational social media accounts after hours and over weekends. Some top tips to avoid burnout, that we discussed, were to stop checking emails and social media just before going to bed, to go for a walk (particularly if you don’t take a full lunch break) to clear your head, rest your eyes and get some fresh air and to take up a non-digital hobby (think sewing lessons, knitting club, learning a language, art classes etc).

As a result of this session, I vowed to take a step back from my personal Twitter account and removed my account from my iPhone that night. You know that statistic that people check their phone on average 110 times a day? Well, that was me. Heard the new buzzword FOMO (fear of missing out)? Well, that was me too. I love working in social media and helping my clients with their strategy and implementation but I have finally realised that I don’t personally need to always be tweeting every minute of the day to connect, to engage, to share and to learn.

Since I have removed my personal Twitter from my iPhone, I have been more mindful. I have been able to dedicate more time to non-digital hobbies as well as to volunteer more time to causes I really care about. I go for walks during my lunch break and I am amazed by the things I notice when I’m not tweeting, checking emails or Instagramming. And I feel so much better for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as tips, on avoiding burnout so please comment below.

Charities get in on the Oscars Selfie Action

You know that Ellen DeGeneres Oscars selfie? The one that broke the record for most retweeted tweet since Obama’s ‘Four more years’. You’d have to be buried in sand to have missed it.

Well, here’s how some charities got in on the fun…

The children’s medical research charity Sparks posted this selfie (although apparently there was some debate over who was meant to be who…)


Macmillan’s fundraising team posted this one and it was obvious at least who Bradley Cooper was!



Dogs Trust took a leaf out of Benedict Cumberbatch’s photobombing book and posted this beauty….

Dogs Trust selfie

What I love about this is how these charities quickly recreated a hot trending topic without having to spend any money or much time. It shows that charities can have a sense of humour and even though they exist for very serious reasons, we all need a bit of light relief at times.

Three new Facebook Features

Here are three new Facebook features, which I thought I would share with you.

1. Trending: Facebook has cottoned on that people like to post links to news stories on their timelines. In fact, according to a recent Ofcom report on News Consumption in the UK, 82% of people use Facebook as their daily news source. (And ‘news’ as in proper news, not what your friend had for lunch) Apparently Facebook will be prioritising news stories in their ever-changing algorithm…


2. Pages to Watch: If you manage a Facebook page, there is a new feature in the Admin panel called ‘pages to watch’. You can add up to five of your competitor’s (or other brands you manage) pages to monitor how many ‘likes’ they get and then get tips on how to keep up* (*What happens if you have more likes than them?). Apparently this feature is being tested so may not be available yet to all page admins. Thanks to Dawn Newton for letting me know about this feature.


3. Changing a Facebook page name: Now… I’ve saved the best for last as this has been a REAL headache in the past. If your charity/brand has had a rebrand and you need to change your Facebook page name, then take these steps:

  • On “edit profile” there is the option to change your name. It will ask the reason for the change
  • To validate the reason, Facebook will email you to say the request has been received and will be assessed but that documentation is required, by email, to confirm a name change (eg a scanned utility bill)
  • Following the documentation being sent, Facebook will email confirmation that it has been approved
  • You will then be able to log in and change the URL

Thanks to Jazmine Sandison for that one!

Initial thoughts on Jelly – the new kid on the social media block

Co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, has developed an App called Jelly (cue ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly’ quips). The concept of Jelly is to ask questions by taking a photo of something and getting answers to your question. In fact its tagline is Point. Shoot. Ask.

I’ve been using it for about a week now and here are my initial thoughts. Note, I am NOT a Guru/Ninja/Jedi on Jelly… these are merely observations and a bit of a ‘how to’.

  • The look and feel of the App is sleek, clean and simple. Possibly a little too simple…
  • You post a question and (hopefully) people answer. As you have to link your Twitter, Facebook or both to use the App, you don’t actually have a profile. So there is no concept of how many Jelly users are ‘following’ you. For brands, this will be a problem
  • There’s always around 11-13 people ‘looking for answers’ (see the bottom of the photo) but you have no idea how many questions there are to answer beyond those 13 and there is no way to search a topic


  • When you swipe on ’13 people want help’, a question comes up. This is the only charity I have spotted on Jelly so far, however I expect more to follow


  • You can choose to answer the question or forward it. This is what happens when you click on Forward (note there is no option to tweet the question or post on Facebook)


  • If you choose not to answer a question, you just swipe it away. The problem is, you can never get it back again. Which is a bit silly really
  • When you do answer a question, the only interaction you can have from the person who asked it is for them to say ‘thanks’, or someone else reading your answer can say it was ‘good’, forward it (and this is where you can tweet or post on Facebook), report it as inappropriate or say you don’t like it (not really sure what that achieves)


  • So far I have asked five questions. This one had the most answers, some of which were great. For example, one person told me that their local telephone box has been turned into a 24/7 library. Another told me they had a wee in one last September…


  • Once someone answers your question, all you can do is choose to thank them or share their answer on Twitter, Facebook or by email. What you can’t do is reply. I’d quite like to know where this library telephone box is!
  • You could of course ask the person who answered on Twitter as you can see their Twitter handle. But then this takes the conversation off Jelly… perhaps as this is owned by the co-founder of Twitter, it’s all a cunning plan?

To be honest, I’m not sure yet how brands would benefit from Jelly – it’s too new and soon to say. Perhaps they could use it as a way to test new products or get people’s opinion on something like a policy change. At the moment there is no way to easily measure your results. When you click on your ‘profile’ you just get a rolling list of your activity (see below). You don’t get a snapshot of how many questions you have asked, answered or how many people thought your answer was ‘good’. The only thing that is clear is how many ‘thank you cards’ you received

photoDo you use Jelly? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment below.