Friday, 8 August 2014

State of Digital Leadership in the UK non-profit sector

This report will be coming out in September on

Report covers following areas
  • Why this report 
  • Digital Leaders and why we need them now 
  • The State of Digital Leadership (survey findings) 
  • What is needed to develop Digital (Leadership) 
  • Implications for Digital Leads 
  • Implications for Senior Management
If you have only 5 minutes, have a look at this Buzzfeed-like summary of the report and conclusions.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Facebook on Google Plus > a step towards social search?

Many people have been wondering how is Google+ going to go down with mainstream audience. Seeing that Wave failed abysmally I reserve my judgment until I see how this story develops over the next few months.

I am a great admirer of Google. I think it has best usability, design and brand... I even like it's improving ethics. So I have a lot of time for Google+.

However, for many people Facebook is not just a website, it's a destination - people spend hours there talking to their friends, updating their info, stalking other people... So it's hard to see why they would change their daily habit and switch.

It seems that Facebook on Google + (currently only available for Chrome and Firefox and doesn't yet work on mobile) might be a solution to this conundrum. If you install this application you can view your FB content in your Google+ stream. The down-side in terms of usability is that as soon as you click on any links in your FB stream, you are taken to your Facebook profile.

Now is this really a down side as Read Write Web says in this article or could it be that this app is the first step towards enabling Google to become a leader in social search? In order to enable the viewing of your FB feed in your Google+ stream, you need to allow Google access to all your FB data (as per any other FB app).

Which is exactly what Google needs to be able to mix up the info about yours and your friends preferences with it's already superior (to Facebook) search results. So let's say you are searching for a pub in a certain area - you will get paid and organic search results as well as results based on your fiends FB Places check-ins or comments about a location in their status.

Obviously if I figured this one out, so will FB and they might feel that this is too much of a threat to their plan for world domination. For instance, they would lose views on their advertising which doesn't get pulled through into Google+ through this app. At the same time, the technology used to develop these apps seems to be straight-forward FB open platform, so I am not sure how FB will justify shutting this one as they did before according to the same article on Read Write Web.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Greenpeace rocks my (digital) world - again!

In July Greenpeace's been dominating my digital world with their two brilliantly executed campaigns - Barbie the rainforest destroyer ergo chainsaw Barbie and VW - Dark Side.

The Barbie campaign has launched with a video of Ken musing about the nice life he has with Barbie only to learn that she has a nasty habit - destroying rainforests. This is how Greenpeace launched their campaign to stop Mattel using paper from rainforests for toy packaging.

The next day Ken dumps Barbie via a huge banner on the HQ of Mattel. Naturally, Greenpeace supporters visit Barbie fan pages on Facebook and start asking difficult questions. Mattel closes the page. So far, familiar Greenpeace work.

The Barbie-hunt begins - find a hidden Barbie doll, report it, unlock the next task which will help spread the word, get an exclusive t-shirt. Everyone - from volunteers to campaigners taking part - were having a great time.

Then, few weeks later, Twitter tells me that storm-troupers are in Old Street, climbers are putting down banners. A video is being released:

Greenpeace is asking me to join the rebellion against the Dark Side embodied in VW fighting CO2 emission cuts. I join in alongside almost all my Twitter friends. Frenzy begins, we are all clicking on each other's pages to earn points and get to the next level of Jedi training. And all that to win a t-shirt!

I scream across the office:"I'm a wookiee!" and I don't even know what a wookiee is. [I didn't get most of the Star Wars references in VW Dark Side emails to the shock of my geeky friend. I am not ashamed to admit it - I liked star wars because I was in love with Luke and then Solo and then I wanted to be princess Leia and the I liked Luke again]

Having fun with it

What's common to both of these campaigns is the playfulness of campaigning asks which makes participation fun and cool. And Greenpeace went all the way, they are not compromising. The campaigning message is underlying everything I read, but it isn't in my face, the priority is to provide me with a fantastic experience which I want to shout about.

The tactic paid off - a couple of weeks into the Barbie campaign Mattel (and other toy companies in case they were Greenpeace's target too) begun to see Greenpeace's point of view.

Sorry, didn't get it

The challenge of prioritising fun experience over message is that the message can suffer at the early stages of the campaign. I found it difficult to see the connection between mainstream characters of Barbie and Star Wars and environmental campaigning.

The Barbie campaign launch film played an important educational role - it introduced the issue so the final message about stopping 'Mattel packaging toys with destroyed forests' kind of made sense....

With VW this wasn't the case - after watching the launch film I wasn't sure what the campaign was about - how can one car company oppose cuts in carbon emissions in Europe?
The campaign message is a bit more complicated which probably means that for a majority of people it won't go further than Star Wars enjoying a game.

And there is nothing wrong in that.
The theory goes that these are campaign leads and a small percentage of them will be converted into 'real' campaigners. If the volume is high, this strategy can work really well. So if Greenpeace gains 10,000 campaigners from their 200,000 Jedi gamers - that's a good deal.

Marketing is OK

Looking at Twitter feed during the first day of VW campaign, some Londoners were clearly confused - commenting that VW has done a good job on George Lucas to get the permission to use Star Wars characters. Even the leaflets looked too much like VW and, for all the skim readers out there, the message could have be easily seen as VW promo.

Greenpeace has been shy with promoting their brand (although I hear that this might have something to do with legalities of doing spoof campaigns) and reluctant in asking for money for campaigning (although a shy donate link on the Dark Side microsite is much more than they ever did before).

While most NGOs have a very prominent donate button on their homepage/emails Grenpeace hasn't. I am sure that campaigners who are passionate about Greenpeace would be passionate enough to donate as well. So, once Greenpeace recruits new campaigners of the back of VW Dark Side, I would expect them to design a journey which will ask for money as well as actions, both at the right time for a supporter.

Lessons for the rest of us: Don't get depressed

I know for a fact that a number of NGO digi teams looked at VW dark side campaign and got depressed because 'we'd never be able to do something like this'.

Bur let's not get depressed and let's draw some lessons that can apply to all of us:

- Be fun, give people an excellent experience, take them on a fun/enjoyable journey. People will then be more likely to give you some time and engage with the complexities of the message. I always remember e-campaigning forum 2004 when Prof Stephan Coleman of Oxford Internet Institute said something along the lines of - The problem with charities is that they are no fun, why would I engage to be made feel guilty.

-At a start of a campaign, providing an excellent experience to your supporters is more important that drilling into the depths of policy supporting your campaigning message. Once you attract people's attention to your proposition and brand, you can move to the next level of explaining. For example VW Dark side emails were a good example of this - they were revealing the detail of their campaign as I was going up the Jedi training scale.

- These two campaigns show that we can be playful within our resources - Greenpeace didn't develop an expensive game which is trying to compete within the gaming market. Both campaigns are actually technically/visually very simple but very funny in a clever way.

- Do not launch two big campaigns in the scope of few weeks - it might work for Greenpeace as they get companies to crumble under their pressure pretty quick. But as a Barbie hunter, I am a bit upset that I am being told to switch to Star Wars geekery so quickly. Although I admit that there is a gender divide on this one - a friend was saying that he got a lot of flack for 'liking' Barbie FB page.

It will be interesting to see the recruitment results of the Greenpeace campaign in 6 months time and see if the assumptions I made are correct.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Charity apps - to do or not to do

In the past few days I had a number of discussions with colleagues about smartphone apps - should charities do them or not?

We ended up with two schools of thought:

1) you build an app which people will find genuinely useful and will fire it up every now and then. Example of such apps are - Water Aid's toilet finder, Marie Curie's tea app, MacMillan app that helps you find an independent coffee shop where you are, St John's ambulance first aid app.
2) you build an app which will serve up your content in a simple, clear, easy to navigate way, much neater than your website - such as the latest app (US only), Amnesty International app (AI candle) or Red Nose Day.

Plus in both scenarios if the app is new, cool and everyone is talking about it - you get PR. Think Ihobo app.

I personally favour the first school of thought and see the logic in the PR argument although would think twice before investing a lot of money.

Just optimise for mobile

And here's why - there are three main barriers with apps:

1) people need to download them
2) they need to actively open them
3) and sometimes, they need to actively update them to get new content

This assumes a good amount of enthusiasm and some kind of need at user end.
And this is where I usually have a reality check......

We know that most of website content comes through our own marketing push through email, online advertising, PPC, media stories and now more and more through social media. With apps, at the moment, we don't have this mechanism unless people allow push notifications (and I am not sure how many people really keep them on).

So the user journey you have is:
User receives email, they pick it up on their mobile phone, they click on the link and...... they end up on your website... Which is ok, but not that easy to use as links are tiny and you can't press the link easily etc etc... User needs to be really keen to go and fire up the app in order to access that content...

Much better investment of time and money is to just optimise your emails and websites for mobile.

Apps graveyard

There is a graveyard of apps out there - most popular and used are games, and even only few of those catch on. In summary - really really difficult market.

Saying this, I think Red Nose Day app worked really well, but it had a clear ambition to serve a specific audience that they know they have access to for a limited period of time.

Also, there is no doubt that some charities have a very committed supporter base who will happily use their favourite charity app because it does something they need.

All in all it does come down to the basics of developing any digital/comms product - you need to clarify what your objectives are, what does success look like, how you'll measure it, who is the audience you are aiming the app at and what's their profile, how will you promote your app to that audience, etc etc..


From my experience prices of app development vary wildly and it's all dependant on how much of new design and technical wizardry you need for an app. I think it's best to keep it simple, use features that are well established, tried and tested because if app doesn't work once, that's it - it's unlikely users will try it out again.

Also, my tech colleague has been playing with Iphone app platform and has built some really simple apps. So if this is of interest, it's good to get internal teams to experiment. You just need to register with Apple.

Plus, there is an opportunity to partner an agency who want to do an innovative new thing in this space. As a result, a charity gets a free app and PR and the agency attracts new business :)

There are couple of other articles on this topc from the US which offer some additional insight along these lines:

And in this article they give some more examples and advice

And what about Android?

Keep a watching brief. Android market is not growing as the predictions have you believe and it's mostly because the app market is not managed and it's like Wild West. So a lot of rubbish
out there. Android adoption is on the up no doubt, but if you want to test app market, starting with Apple is probably the best first step. Both developer and consumer markets are more mature and if your apps works in this environment, it will work with Android too.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Final ECF2011 reflections and Presentations

ECF is coming to a close shortly with few more presentations.
It was a good forum as ever...
Loads of good energy and good discussions.

It is interesting to note how the change in the profile of participants has changed the discussion a bit...
Before the forum was full of digital comms people working with Campaigns teams sharing their experience and ongoing issues we had to deal with (mostly about feeling misunderstood :).

Now, the forum is a mix of campaigners who want to know more about digital, digital comms people who also do marketing comms people who started working recently in digital, agencies... Consequentially we moved on from very geeky very digital discussions and moans towards professional discussions sprinkled with a little bit of fear - fear of social media, fear of negative campaigning, fear for our privacy... I suppose it's good that we are feeling more confident and can focus on addressing the issues people are concerned about.
I do miss the geekiness and naivety of the early days of ecf though.. Don't get me wrong, change is good and we moved a long way. I am just allowing myself a bit of nostalgia... I think @hackofalltrades (Liam) the author of dismantling professionalism presentation will understand me here.

So two presentations I managed to write-up...

Theory of a campaign - chop up a big issue into a number of small ones and win them one by one. Great idea - it does make sense..
Example: Issues around prejudice against gay and lesbian people in South Africa - too big. Needed chopping up into smaller specific issues, more tangible, achievable.


Brilliant presentation on how we use websites as a library rather than for funelling people to do what we want them to do. Too much focus on the home page while actually Google is our homepage..

It is kind of true but what people type into google is the brand name anyway which will land people on the home page. So it is still important.. But I agree, homepage needs to be more focussed. Some websites still have the structure which nicely shows the structure of the organisation rather than what we want people to do.