RSS Feed

Category Archives: charity

RKtalks site moving – this blog discontinuing

Posted on

Hi all, I started this site years ago to blog about all things digital. Since then a lot has changed and I have blogged elsewhere and on different things. I always thought I’d come back to this one but alas, I haven’t.

From now on I will be blogging at RKTumbles tumblr so check it out, I will also be editing and blogging about football from One Foot In the Game again from April 2013, so check that out too.

More about me at my portfolio site too – 

SoLoCo to pioneer fundraising approach used by Obama in the UK

I came across SoloCo during Social Media Week Scotland and was immediatlely intrigued.

I remember when the Obama campaign was in full swing and I was working in my first charity job (many years ago) as Assistant Web Producer and my then CEO  asked how could we fundraise like Obama did.

Not easily I remember thinking.

But that may change, SoLoCo is in Beta and is already looking pretty slick. At the moment it is Scottish based and there are 11 projects bidding for funding, including:

  • A Radio project
  • A youth Football project
  • And SoLoCo itself who are seeking funding to support the site for the next stage of development.

But in the current climate for charities with reduced incomes it could be one to watch.

So what do you think of the crowd funding model? Is SoLoCo the future for community and smaller projects? Will other charities follow (CRUK are already doing something similar with MyProjects)?

Be great to hear your views.

New Facebook Top Stories and Ticker

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

From today you will start to see a ‘new’ newsfeed on your own Facebook profile. The two biggest features are ‘Top Stories’ feature and a ‘Ticker’ feature.

Top Stories

All of your news is now in one place with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are top photos and status updates posted while you’ve been away. They’re marked with an blue corner.

If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories first. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy while you’re scrolling through.

Facebook determines whether something is a top story based on lots of factors, including your relationship to the person/page who posted the story, how many comments and likes it got, what type of story it is, etc.

How does this impact your page?

Well. We don’t know yet. But…I will be keeping an eye on how this impacts on our Facebook posts and engagement.

My theory, and it is just a theory, is that this should be a good thing for pages. Mainly because Facebook needs to be seen as a major media platform so you would imagine that they are doing this to make Brand Pages more obvious in the newsfeed. Keep today in your diary as a date to keep a close eye on your engagement stats

In addition, we may see that stories have a longer shelf life, maybe up to 5 days as people who don’t log in as much see our top story when they log in, which may be a few days after the story was posted.

The Ticker.

The ticker, on the right-hand side of your account, lets you see all your friends’ activity in real-time – yes, that’s right, just like Twitter…

When you hover over an item on ticker, you can see the full story and join the conversation as it happens….just like when you click on a Tweet on Twitter it opens that up for you.

Ticker updates itself as stories happen. This gives you a more complete picture of what your friends and Pages you are following are up to right now.

How does this impact your page?

Be really succinct, we  have a rule that every Facebook post has a question or first line hook, this will become even more important to make sure people engage with us.

Finally, it will also mean – and again this is my theory – that less people will come your actual page wall but engage with you on posts that come up on their newsfeed, which is what happens already but I suspect will increase even further.

What do you think? Good or bad?

I have to say I think good and generally love the new design, wider and more relevant to me.

Data driven decisions on Facebook

Posted on
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

UPDATE: October 2011

Seems that with the new Facebook Insights that you can now export all the data that you need to make the below work again without using Plus there are some new metrics too, individual users who have seen each post as well as reach.

Good times!


UPDATE: seem to have been taken over by Simply Measured and don’t seem to offer the same, very cost effective, solution as what we did below.  Hoping to find out more, but as you can imagine, I’m very keen to keep using them!

I was having a chat with a colleague last week and she asked me why we update our Facebook page twice a day and how do we make that decision? Was it just a guess or a hunch?

The answer to both was by using data.

At the BHF we have a very healthy Facebook community with lots of engagement, take a look – I am very proud of it. We have worked very hard to make sure that we are talking to our ‘likers’ every day and engaging them in conversation not just broadcasting at them, using our top class content to build better relationships.

But how did we make decisions about when we should post a Facebook update?

In April, we used to export the previous 12 months Facebook data to a huge Excel file.

Our Analytics Executive Dan manipulated the Excel file and in a few hours we knew:

  • Time of our updates
  • Amount of likes per post
  • Amount of comments per post
  • Whether posts included a video, photo or if they were just a text update
  • Our top contributors to our page
  • Lots more treasures…

Now we had all that data we could cross reference the time of our updates by comments and likes and find out when updates had higher levels engagement – allowing us to make decisions on when we post using data rather than just a hunch.

We are due another data mine soon and due to the substantial increase in ‘likes’ that we have had since April I think that our timings may change slightly. I’m keen to find out whether our updates with a question are more engaging with our ‘likers’ than one’s without  too as well as some more extensive work into what topics get more engagement (if you’re reading this Dan then that’s what I’m going to ask next week..).

For the record, our highest engagement came between 11:30-13:00 and 18:30-19:30…

N.B We had to pay $50 dollars for our file due to the size of our Facebook page, but if you’re managing a page with less ‘likes’ then you may not have to pay at all. (We have 100,000+ likes now).

How we are building the British Heart Foundation community

Posted on

BHF community teamI’ve been involved in online communities since I can remember, having grown up with an Ollivetti PC with AOL dial up; forums, messageboards and chat rooms were all we had until MSN really kicked off. Building an online community at the British Heart Foundation has been a huge challenge; the community “soft” launched today, please do visit the site and tell anyone you know that is interested in the BHF.

Here is my  (rather long) experience…It would be great to hear your thoughts!

For as long as anyone can remember our supporters have been asking for a space online where they could meet other people and share experiences. That might be talking to others about their heart condition, or talking to a group of people who are trekking to China to raise vital funds for our work.

Two years ago we began a global navigation review of our website. This was a nine month project looking into our website, how people used the site and how they wanted to.

We ran lots of focus groups with every person imaginable; teachers, current users of our site, doctors, professors, people who take part in events and even people who hated going online and found out what made them tick and what they wanted or didn’t want from our website.

We put our users at the heart (excuse the pun) of our website and it paid off hugely. We now have a fantastic website that was developed in partnership with our audience with innovative features like our patient pathway (the strap across the front page from Prevention to recovery).

People wanted to connect

The feedback from the review told us in no uncertain terms that our supporters wanted to connect with people in similar situations. Similar sentiments were coming in from all areas; focus groups with our Health at Work practitioners were telling us they wanted to talk about delivering Health at Work with other practitioners online. Our eventers wanted to share tips and meet others going on treks or taking part in marathons online. Our Facebook audience was increasing at a phenomenal rate (from 20,000 12 months ago to 98,500 today) and they wanted to share their stories and how they were feeling and we wanted to build these relationships between our supporters and with us. People were even going away and starting their own forums but without the infrastructure or man power to deliver. We knew we had to step in.

A year ago we started in earnest to look at what a BHF online community would look like and how that would work for us. Like many large charities we have a lot of audiences and we also have a lot of data which we wanted to make sure was connected. Someone told me (outside of the BHF) that if they wouldn’t start an online community in a charity today because it is a data and registration nightmare!

How do you solve a problem like “Single Sign On”?

We didn’t want the community to be an add on or a second thought, but rather a hub of conversation about people’s experiences and what people were doing so that people could build relationships with each other and with us.

The biggest beast to tame was “Single Sign On”. Because our community is a different platform to our main website and hosted elsewhere we wanted to make sure that if you were a member of any of our online environments that you could use 1 login and you could use them all and for that solution to be scalable for any other online space we may add in future. Trust me when I say that this was a huge project but one I was lucky to be managing.

The people and the platform

We decided to talk to 8 agencies that had experience in building communities. We knew we wanted a community for all, not just for an event or for delivering health advice. We wanted a community that was for the whole BHF and we wanted our users to be able to seamlessly be able to engage and use their existing membership with us.

We decided to pick SIFT Groups. They work on the Drupal platform which is open source and have experience in charity working. It seemed like a great fit, they also brought a vast amount of experience in community management and training. We were all especially impressed with Elena Goodrum – a community manager and how she trained and spoke so passionately about community.

We already had buy in from the very, very top, we knew our supporters were chomping at the bit and we had our platform. The next step was to work very closely with SIFT to make the user journey as simple as possible, using all the information we have from the past two years we stripped back the community as much as physically possible. Do we need this? Do we need that? Can we ask our users about this bit? We questioned everything. But when we got to UAT and live site, it was all worth it.

At the same time “Single Sign On” was ongoing as a separate project. We were working both with SIFT and our web development agency Positive Technology to make sure that we could build a “passport” for users who sign up to the BHF website (to register for events, order publications and our Heart Matters service) so that they wouldn’t have to login to a new website, this had to work and was a critical part of the tech side of the project. We also had to make sure if a supporter signed up to the community they could sign up to all the other great things our website offers. All on another online environment. Tricky stuff! But we got there, and I won’t bore you about the tech side. Feel free to ask me any questions though!

But back to the people… (The best bit).

We had been working with our staff from the get go. Now we started working with the whole organisation on the community. We trained up 20 Heart Health nurses on how to use communities, how to moderate and how to engage online. We then trained our events staff so that they could help in the community management of the site. We got our customer service teams involved, how to moderate, how to engage, tone of voice. Luckily we had social media guidelines done and dusted and we also had a tone of voice guide, so this was a bit easier than it may have been elsewhere. How useful they proved to be!

We then started recruiting champions outside of the organisation. We used our social networking channels, we used our emails lists and anyone who had shown an interest in the BHF and doing more. We then invited them in to meet us, and gave them a sneak preview of the community. It was difficult, but it was so worth it when they saw it, we speak to the regularly, updated them about progress. We just kept them up to date and they loved being part of something. Sounds so simple huh.

Only at the first step…

All through this process we had been tweaking and adding to our growth strategy. With the different types of audiences and the sheer number of people who we talk to on a regular basis we wanted to make sure we didn’t launch with a big bang only to whimper a week or month later. We decided to phase specific audiences on to our site at soft launch, we picked our heart health audiences and eventers will be sign posted to our site and then a gradual evolution both natural (them finding it on our site) and us prodding them via email. We have a plan from launch in June all the way through until November already and that is just phase one of our growth.

I am sure I have missed lots; it was a huge team effort with a lot of highs and a lot of lows. We have a lot in the pipeline and our site now is going to be very different in 12 months time. But it was a fantastic journey for me personally and one of the biggest projects of my career.

We have been on a hell of a journey already, and the first step only starts today.

P.S – if you’ve read to the bottom here – thank you!

Cookie law…coming soon

Posted on
Image representing IAB as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Our Analytics Executive Dan (who has no social media presence – through choice) went to a high level meeting about the potential cookie laws, I thought it would be interesting to get him to blog on the very complex subject, here are his notes.

Cookie Law The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 are expected to be adopted into UK law around the end of the month although this may slip.

There is no clarity around what companies should be doing to ensure compliance. Thankfully the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has indicated that they won’t be expecting compliance from companies for at least a year after the regulations are adopted.

Wording of the regulation:

‘Member states shall ensure that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on the condition that the subscriber or user concerned has given his or her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC, inter alia about the purposes of the processing’

There are different interpretations around what constitutes consent/what counts as functionality and what counts as clear information.

What will this affect?
Services which use cookies will be affected. This includes:

  • Core functionality (shopping baskets, sign-in) -
  • Tracking (and 3rd party tracking
  • A/B and multivariate testing
  • Any behavioural advertising -
  • Any regular digital advertising

What we know works
The DCMS has said that the voluntary frameworks published by both the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) would be considered compliant with the act but that they are not the only solutions to the issues. They have also been very clear that they are likely to be very tough on what constitutes essential site functionality (shopping baskets would be acceptable, recommended products would not fit in essential functionality)

Unclear Issues

  • What constitutes consent (opt-in, opt-out, what level of granularity is required) -
  • Who is responsible for compliance when advertising (the publisher who is displaying an ad, the network arranging distribution of the ad or the advertiser who is paying for the marketing) -
  • Level of compliance with other countries required. In theory if a person from Germany visited the site then we would be subject to the German interpretation of the Directive, despite being UK based and UK compliant.

Worst Case Scenario

  • The strictest interpretations of the directive are followed. We would probably end up needing a pop-up before any of our sites which explained which cookies we used, why we used them, and then giving the option of itemised consent to the user. This would need to be presented whenever a visitor came to any of our  sites as we wouldn’t be able to store the answers past that session.
  • In addition we would have to have IP geolocation in place to either block or present customised warnings/solutions to non-uk visitors.
  • We would have to take extra care when planning campaigns to ensure that any digital advertising on our behalf is totally compliant/run through compliant networks/on compliant sites. – The detail on our tracking plummets as people are forced to opt-in.

Best Case Scenario

Currently consent is considered to be given because browser settings allow you to choose the level of cookie you’re comfortable with. Ideally, this would continue to cover all the responsibilities in the directive.

Most likely Scenario (Dan’s interpretation) – We would need to update our privacy policy with details of what cookies we may have in place and how we use them. We would also need to include a link to Your online choices website.

If we were to run behaviourally targeted advertising then we would likely need to sign up to the IAB’s technical solution (not yet created), but this is likely to be handled by the networks rather than individual companies.

We have a year and most people seem to be waiting to see what other companies do. Unfortunately it looks like much of the clarity will come from breaches of the regulations being pursued.

Asking for support via twitter. Your thoughts?

Posted on

Tweet from WWF to RktweetsSo I have the new iPad and it has given me inspiration to blog again (simple pleasures/simple minds).

On Saturday the WWF tweeted at me asking to spread the word about earth hour. I had no problem helping out, I like the WWF a lot and my first memory of a “charity” was of the WWF logo back when I was a child.

I noticed that they had also asked a lot of other people to do the same. Again I didn’t mind at all, I have done the same thing at the BHF to MP’s to support some of our campaigns, all part of trying new methods of engaging and experimenting, we have also had some MP’s who we were not as warm with talk to us because of it, which can only be a good thing.

It did get me thinking though, do people find it spammy? Or is it just another way of using Twitter with “influencers” to spread the word? Does it make a difference? And please…no mentions of slacktivism.

Be really interested in your thoughts.

And a big well done to the WWF for another year of earth hour and raised awareness of global sustainability.

Facebook’s new groups. All change?

Posted on


Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Yesterday Facebook announced new functionality in the way groups will work on Facebook. Something I have been expecting for a while.

It is a pretty big change. Not only to groups but to the way that we use Facebook. The new groups will allow us to make mini Facebook experiences and for you to list together your interests and people. That might mean a group for the people who you lived with at University, or your amateur football team. All groups will be start as closed unless you make them open or private and only those in the group can see what goes on. The group admin can also update to group members newsfeeds.


There is also a big play on collaborative working. New groups allow uploading of documents and event editing these on the group. This is interesting and for me shows a play into the professional space. The groups even have group chat which allows you to talk to the whole group or those online in the chat module.

The final functionality which makes me think that Facebook is looking at the professional audience long term is being able to email the group. Every group (from the looks of it) can have an email address so that you can email the group even when you aren’t on Facebook. But when would you not be on Facebook but able to email? Perhaps at work…?

What about non profits?

For non profits I think this is an interesting move too. There are hundreds of thousands of groups dedicated to fundraising areas, events and organisations that can sometimes fragment a brand. Empowering these people and harnessing their amazing enthusiasm whilst keeping that activity streamlined is a challenge.

The new groups will allow much more private and personal interactions. Instead of a new group hidden away for anyone to join you add friends and contacts to the group. How this fits with your organisation Facebook strategy depends what you are trying to achieve but I would suggest that groups are going to change a lot of people’s experiences on Facebook so it may be a good idea to start exploring the functionality and possibilities. For small/tiny organisations it may even allow you to have a small collaborative intranet or space which is private and at no cost apart from the cost of a Facebook account.


We shouldn’t underestimate the way this will change our experience of Facebook. I am part of the tiny 5% of people who use Facebook lists, I find them a great tool and help me control privacy. New groups will make that a lot easier. You will be able to potentially create a group for each interest and area of your life and friends. For example I may have a group for my family, old flatmates and university friends and then friends who live in London (where I live now). That would mean I could have 4 different Facebook experiences which will have an impact on my feed too.

I think that this is the first step in the groups product. The old groups had become outdated and not fit for purpose. How brands use groups I am not so sure. I am sure there will be stories about brands using groups as an intranet or working group, I think that could work, though I have some big question marks over that. But we know Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone in the world to be on Facebook. If you can be on Facebook for work that might make that dream a bit easier.

Coca-Cola Camp Lets Teens Update Facebook Profiles in Real Life

Saw this at a conference and it is interesting to see that more companies are starting to think about the platform and not just let us update our Facebook profile as a marketing channel. Also interesting is the offline complementing the online which again is something I firmly believe in (for the moment).

At the same time, rather scary that so much data of teens who obviously are excited and (on a sugar rush?) being monitored 24/7 – if they choose to be of course…

I think the tech is obviously expensive and for a big brand this may be a useful way of engaging offline and online. But I think there may be something in it for small brands and Non profits too. Maybe not now but for the future.


Want to grab the attention of Generation Y? Here’s how Facebook Places could help

Posted on
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Want to grab the attention of Generation Y? Here’s how Facebook Places could help

My first blog on the website. Take a look:

As a proud member of Generation Y – the generation born after 1980 – I am often asked
how to engage young people.As a group we are said to be more ethically conscious than other generations, and we
want to make a difference to the world. But we have shorter attention spans, question
everything and can come across as arrogant. Doesn’t sound too different to every
generation that has gone before us before taxes, bills and all of those other
grown-up things come into play, does it?

What marks us out from previous generations is that we have had access to the internet
and social media during our formative years. Other generations didn’t. Not being able to meet
and collaborate with other like-minded people was probably the downfall of a lot of great
ideas in the past.

Now we are just a Facebook group away from being able to meet people who share our
ideas and goals. Look at how fundraising or volunteering has changed: every summer, we
are inundated with links to donate to JustGiving pages, which in turn enable us to share
and ask people to donate to our cause.

Location-based services are set to take this connectivity to the next level. I was an early
adopter of services such as Foursquare and Gowalla, but I always knew it would take
Facebook to dip its toe in for location-based services to become mainstream. That’s why
last week’s announcement on the launch of Facebook Places was music to my ears.

What excites me about it is the possibilities to engage new audiences into traditional third-
sector areas of business, such as shops and events.

For example, Foursquare allows businesses to add special offers if people visit or
become “mayor” of a particular location. Imagine you are logged into Foursquare and see
the local charity shop is offering two-for-one to people who check in there. This tactic may
attract younger people who don’t usually visit charity shops. Of course, the shop needs to
have good stock and look appealing. But location-based services would be the first step to
capturing that new generation of customers.

With Facebook Places also comes the functionality to advertise your “place” or
location. This is great news, as it means that you can target users in a very specific

The principle is the same as Facebook ads, which allow business to promote pages to
specific groups of people. But we can now make the experience even more personal and
local. For example, if you run a charity shop in Rochdale, you can target a new audience
by advertising your “place” only to those Facebook users who have mentioned Rochdale
on the site – again, another way of promoting traditional charity to a new audience.

Another by-product of Facebook Places is that instead of having a fragmented social-

media space where a charity has a Facebook page or group for every one of its shops or
events, they can now be listed as locations, which allows a more consistent approach.

Start small and wear the software in. Location-based services are new, and they will take
time to mature. If there are no big results early on, keep trying.

The key thing to remember is young people are no different from any other group. They
want to be treated on a level playing field, be more than a token thought and to actually
have their ideas and efforts considered and given time of day. Be honest and open with
what you are trying to achieve and why you want to achieve it. A positive experience will
capture the loyalty of Generation Y for a long time.

Which brings me onto crowdsourcing…but that might be another blog.

Posted on 24th August 2010, by RKtalks, under Social media, Technology

Tags: facebook, foursquare, fundraising, generationy, gowalla, justgiving, places


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.