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Carebnb – 4 lessons learned from the Airbnb ebola spoof

In a very strange move this is my second blog post in as many days about a non-profit spoof Airbnb website. My post yesterday looked at lessons learned from Barnardo’s interesting #Carebandb campaign. Their campaign highlights the often squalid living conditions many care leavers face. One of my major concerns with the campaign was the fact that we’ve already seen a charity Airbnb spoof this month – #Carebnb.

Confused much? I was.

Founded by two social entrepreneus, #Carebandb #Carebnb invites users to ‘book a night’ in one of Carebnb’s hosted accommodations. You’re actually donating a night of care and treatment on behalf of someone affected by the ebola virus in countries where care is limited, medical volunteers lack training and basic necessities are severely lacking. Run by The Believe.in Trust, 100% of your donation through Carebnb is re-granted to Médecins sans Frontières, first responders combating the virus. Funds will go towards helping them replenish supplies, train staff and deploy more tents to serve rapidly increasing numbers of victims.

So what are the fundraising, campaigning and social media lessons learned from this campaign?

1. Mix real stories with spoof content to give maximum impact

Carebnb listing pages serve to show the stark differences between treatment facilities in the US and Spain versus those in West Africa. The reviews, real verbatim quotes from press interviews, highlight significant problems such as accessibility, capacity constraints, lack of information, healthcare revolts and economic & social isolation. These real-life snippets hammer home the reality of the situation. All the photos and names of hosts and reviewers have been purchased from stock photography libraries or are licensed under creative commons. This mix of real stories with spoof content works incredibly well.

 

2.Don’t just focus on the ’cause’ – think about the individuals involved

One of the features that excited me the most was the opportunity to learn more about my ‘hosts’ – the doctors and nurses fighting ebola. The problem is when I click on Marco or James & Camilla’s profiles on the front page I’m simply taken in to one of the five spoof listings. This is a minor criticism but the user-experience could have been much richer and I could have learnt more about the treatment process had those links clicked through to Airbnb-style host profiles of those nurses and doctors.

 

3. Social media shouldn’t be an afterthought

One of my criticisms of the Barnardo’s Carebandb site was the lack of social sharing options anywhere on the site. While Carebnb manages to fit in a Like, Tweet and G+ Share bar at the top of each page, the message you’re prompted to share is generic (see below). It would have been great if pre-populated share text was tied in to individual listings on the site. For example, if I’m on the Sierra Leone page then my tweet might read ‘check out this incredible Sierra Leone listing on #Carebnb http://www.carebnb.io/rooms/sierra-leone’.

 

4. Taking action needs to be incredibly simple

One of my favourite elements of the site is that big red ‘donate now’ button (below). It is virtually a carbon copy of the ‘request to book’ button on Airbnb (above). Working in tandem with the spoof listing page itself you feel compelled to click. The button is well placed and the donation process is incredibly simple.

Anything I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Carebnb campaign.

 

Speak to us about developing a spoof website for your next campaign

 

5 lessons learned from Barnardo’s #carebandb spoof website

Barnardo’s have just launched their fantastic #carebandb campaign to highlight the state of housing provision that care leavers face across the UK. Mimicking Airbnb, the campaign was devised in-house and is brilliantly executed. This type of campaign could be delivered relatively cheaply by most charities – what are the lessons learned?

1. Provide a rich user experience

Carebnb taps in to the middle class national obsession with Airbnb. The campaign is delivered in such a way that it requires very little introduction – this is no mean feat so hats off to the Barnardo’s team. Once you’ve whacked in your postcode the resulting ‘rentals’ pop up on a results page, giving you a really clear understanding of the types of places care leavers end up in. Would you fancy a stay in ‘The Cold Hart’, ‘The Grim Retreat’ or ‘Bleak Street B&B’? My one criticism of the user experience is the lack of geo-specific content. If I type in a Glasgow postcode I end up with the same results as someone who has put in a London postcode. While it would clearly involve significantly more work I believe more location-specific results would have prolonged the campaign and made the content more shareable across social media. Could Barnardo’s even have tied it in to local authority data they hold on care leavers?

2. Have a strong call to action

 

That simple ‘act now’ button under each Carebandb listing is begging to be clicked. Doing so takes you to Barnardo’s e-action page – ‘Our recent research has shown that 73% of local authorities in the last 12 months have used B&B type accommodation, often for long periods of time. We need you to email your local councillor and help change this’. A really clear call to action. The next page then tells me about an upcoming campaign and asks me to enter my details once more to take part in late 2014. It may well be that this second request is Scotland-specific but ultimately I’d like to feel like I was taking that original action mentioned – emailing a local councillor. As an aside I’d love it if the call to action to ‘act now’ kept me on the Carebandb site, with a simple form to submit my details there.

3. Think about SEO and social media

There’s two big problems with the Carebnb campaign – SEO and social media. There’s an existing Carebnb website, offering a socially-aware spin on Airbnb by spoofing the site with the ultimate aim of combating Ebola. Instead of campaign calls to action you’re asked for cold hard cash to buy things like tented accommodation in Sierra Leone. OK so it’s spelt differently – ‘Airbnb’ rather than ‘Airbandb’ – but will the public know the difference? Search for ‘Carebnb’ and that ebola site dominates page one of Google. I’d also like to see more opportunity to share the individual listings on the Barnardo’s Carebandb site – there’s no social sharing buttons at all. Tie these in with the geo-specific content I mentioned earlier and I think the campaign could gain more traction.

4. Use images to tell the story

Those images on Carebandb site really stand out – I understand what Barnardo’s are trying to say without me having to read too much. Again I’d like to have seen a broader range of images tied in with geo-specific results. The video which features on the results page also helps users understand the reality many care leavers face and increases the likelihood of that ‘act now’ button being clicked.

5. Don’t be too preachy

Possibly my favourite thing about the Carebandb site is the fact that it avoids being too preachy. We’re given shocking facts and we’re asked to take action but it’s done in a fun, light-hearted way. Barnardo’s clearly understand the type of content people wish to consume and share online – I just wish they’d made sharing easier.

Could your charity use a spoof website as part of an upcoming campaign? Get in touch if you’d like a chat about it.