Engaging digital comms 2017

Oxfam app:

  • They have 700 shops in the UK
  • The digital team are aiming to make themselves obsolete
  • “We want our content to be good enough that people keep coming back for more”
  • They have a lot of internal challenges in breaking out of the legacy mould
  • Innovation is difficult in a big and established charity
  • They hope to grow a culture where things don’t have to work first time
  • Establishing test and learn practices
  • They want to take supporters on a reach through to advocacy journey
  • With the app, they wanted to make it easier for people to control the way they support the charity
  • They wanted to be able to more clearly demonstrate the impact of the supporter’s commitment
  • They wanted to be able to alert people to emergency activity
  • They prioritise thanking supporters, with a timeline of content about where their money is going
  • It meant changing the way they created content, for it to be bitesize and consumable in a few seconds
  • They have a ‘tag your bag’ feature, for people making clothes donations to shops and being able to see the impact
  • Enables them to achieve better retention and loyalty from individual supporters
  • Allows them to test other new ground with a loyal supporter base
  • Cuts down on attrition, people can give in 10 seconds
  • Of the people who have downloaded the app, 12% have donated through it
  • Allows them to tailor giving for supporters, give them the option of cutting down their regular giving rather than cancelling and rejoining

Storytelling with social:

  • Learn from failure
  • Don’t compromise on doing things right, whatever the internal pressure
  • “It’s the difference between telling people about your work and enchanting them with your story”
  • Apple: “The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long-lasting support that is mutually beneficial “
  • Get Up Australia’s most successful post was seen by more people than the population of the entire country (27 million)
  • Don’t make the assumption that your audience across all channels are the same people
  • Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, contribute to what people like, but don’t all be putting out the same messages
  • They use an 80% engagement, 20% key messaging rule
  • Talk to people like they’re your friends, there is no room for bad content, you want to create a loyal following of people who will be there when you need them
  • They found thanking people for taking action in the comments gave them a 25% increase in repeat action taking
  • They have some really great examples of capitalising on zeitgeist events in a human, engaging and energising way
  • Their templates are a strong combination of human faces and recognisable brand identity
  • Value statements, humanity
  • Important for universities to use Snap as the fastest growing platform with their audience
  • Newcastle University were unsure about it at first, but realised they had to confidently ‘own it’ to do well
  • People don’t know what they want, don’t ask them, test them
  • They get above 80% retention on every story
  • “Disengagement is the death of everything we are trying to achieve”
  • Anthony Nolan created a matrix of how much key message versus internal rubbish they were churning out
  • As a result they were able to prioritise the good stuff, and saw their engagement quadruple
  • “We don’t win by shouting louder, we win by making people feel”
  • Different content for different platforms – make the people on those channels feel special and heard
  • The police have a challenge because they’re associated with fear and disorder, so it can be difficult to build an engaged and positive community in that context
  • The Met Office have a challenge because their potential audience is the entire country, they’ve had success with things like storm naming
  • Diabetes UK have a challenge because type one and type two diabetes are very different, and have a different social standing


  • Awareness and adaption to emerging and changing trends, e.g. long versus short-form content, which is more subtle than something like VR
  • Increasing progress in machine learning and IoT means communication starts evolving from its human to human roots

Service-led design:

  • The tipping point has been crossed, we’re now nationally at 51% mobile versus desktop
  • This is 71% at Breast Cancer Care
  • Support is good for people at diagnosis and treatment stage, but not so good for people once they’ve been through that process
  • The BECCA app provides that service (not named after me, but does keep me alert in meetings)
  • Ask yourself: what’s your baggage and how will you involve users
  • Not everyone who has a smartphone uses it in a smart way, heat mapping can help find out how people use the technology
  • Create a minimum lovable product
  • Beta testing showed them that iOS versus Android usage did not correlate with the website
  • Karen McGrane ‘Content strategy for mobile’ 
  • Think about scalability at the start, share ideas, products and lessons
  • They are aiming to reach 1/3 of the 60,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the first year

Audience insights:

  • This Girl Can emerged from user need and behaviour
  • They also flexibly adapt to that, like creating an app for people to put their own photos on brand templates after they spotted a trend in users doing that themselves in front of billboards
  • Social media poses an ongoing challenge for PR teams, because people receive speculative before official news, and the immediacy of ‘any’ news leads people to expect teams to respond more quickly, often before they have confirmation of the facts
  • Combat Stress adapted the US ’22 Kill’ campaign to the ’22 push-up challenge’ to make it relevant for a UK audience
  • Share insights internally to achieve additional buy-in for further development

Strategy development:

  • Have a strong vision statement and stick to it
  • Hold people internally to account for working towards that goal
  • Don’t lose the human in the goal to be data driven
  • Not all Performance Indicators are Key, don’t let the internal demand for numbers drown out what’s right

Creating a digital service:

  • In research done by the Met Police, 37% of people reported they would rather have digital contact than phone or face to face
  • They used that to prioritise contact and generally good customer journeys on their site and social
  • They learned from benchmark customer journeys, like Amazon, to influence the way they designed their digital offer
  • A good website helps them triage 111 calls, they want to get to the point where people are aware of and prefer this as a way to find the information they need
  • They also found investing in digital gave them benefits they hadn’t accounted for, e.g. people logging road traffic accidents gave them visual mapping data of RTA hotpots
  • They use keyword screening to prioritise incoming reports, making sure cases are dealt with as or more effectively than by phone
  • In the future, they’re hoping to use data to give people personal advice on crime rates and activity in areas they’re visiting ‘the Fitbit of public safety’
  • Digital has also helped them identify that there’s a gap in people’s knowledge of what is and isn’t an emergency

Customer experience:

  • Own the domain – become the thing your customers are searching for
  • Have a role in people’s lives – ending the short-term campaign culture
  • Design for growth – defrag the online user experience
  • Structure for storytelling
  • “Making things people want is more important than making people want things”
  • Are you trying to earn a momentary reaction, or to change someone’s life
  • The shortness of this section is because the speaker was so good at articulating some of my recent pain that I got a bit enthralled – so here’s his Twitter handle if you want to ask him things about making digital better in a resistant organisation!
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