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Suicide alert app #samaritansradar – innovative and practical use of technology

A post from @rosiehopes, who manages mindwavesnews.com: a mental health citizen journalism project run in partnership by Third Sector Lab and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

There are few things that take more courage than admitting publicly that you feel suicidal.

Imagine picking up your phone, writing and re-working a tweet over and over again and then pressing tweet to announce to your followers that you can’t cope. And then imagine… nothing.

It’s nothing personal. It’s probably just that your closest online friends were busy at the time you sent it. Maybe they were in bed, or in a meeting. Maybe their feeds were too full of cat videos or the latest breaking news. Maybe a few people saw it, but thought someone else would respond. But imagine how that would feel. Imagine what could happen next.

The @samaritans have launched a new app that notifies you when someone you follow tweets statements that could suggest they are suicidal. The Samaritans Radar sends an alert when someone says things like “tired of being alone”, “hate myself”, “depressed”, “help me” and “need someone to talk to” in a public tweet.

It’s a clever charity use of technology that goes beyond fundraising and “raising awareness”. This is about the Samaritans achieving one of their key objectives by putting the power to address suicidal thoughts in the hands of individuals and networks.

Of course, the system won’t be perfect. We’re just as likely to get an alert when someone says they want to die of embarrassment as when they express suicidal thoughts. But that’s okay. I don’t think anyone is looking for an algorithm to replace human relationships. It’s up to us to assess whether it’s something to worry about.

I have often responded when someone has expressed these thoughts online. If it’s someone I don’t know, or I’ve been using a work account, I send a fairly generic tweet with phone numbers for the Samaritans and Breathing Space. If it’s someone I know, I’ll send a private message to let them know I’m concerned.

I don’t know if it’s made a difference. But when it comes down to it, it’s just been luck that I’ve been online when it’s happened. The thought that someone would be shouting into the void and hear nothing back is terrifying.

It is so good to see a charity like Samaritans using technology in a positive way to provide a real solution to a real problem. This puts the power to make a difference right into people’s hands.

The app is free and you can download and activate it here.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or you’re worried about someone else, contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.

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.

Five simple ways to get everyone in your organisation passionate about social media

I cannot believe I’m writing a piece on getting everyone in an organisation involved with social media in 2014, but the reality is most charities and public sector organisations are a long way off truly embracing the medium. Technology isn’t really the issue – it all boils down to trust. That isn’t to say that managers feel their staff will spend all day tweeting photos of their cat, but most don’t feel confident managing a strategic approach to using social channels.

While it’s easy to brush off social media as the responsibility of your marketing or communications person (if you’re lucky enough to have one), if you do, you’re missing a trick. Data shows that employees have greater reach, more influence and generate more revenue than official, branded organisation accounts. The organisation that taps into the reach and influence of its employees is much more likely to succeed in the social age.

So, if you’re tasked with making social media work within your organisation, how do you ensure everyone is on board? Here’s my five top tips which originally appeared in my article for the summer edition of Children in Scotland Magazine:

1. Show people that social media can help them get their job done
Staff don’t have an extra four hours in the week to ‘do’ social media. You need to show them how social media can help get their job done, how you can achieve your team’s goals and how you can reach your key audiences. You need a strategy. It’s a scary word, but, with a framework, you can create something meaningful and succinct.

2. Ensure people feel protected and empowered
If your social media policy was written by your IT-support person, it’s probably 15 pages long and terrifying as hell. He/she may be great at keeping your server ticking over, but they shouldn’t be single-handedly responsible for defining how your organisation communicates with the outside world. You need a policy that protects staff and your organisation, while making staff feel empowered and trusted, allowing them to experiment and drive your online communications. And it needn’t be more than one side of A4.

3. Create social media champions within each team
A strategy is great but without people driving it forward you’ll get nowhere. Start small and recruit social media champions who can get their team enthused – this also gives you a better opportunity to demonstrate impact to executive level staff. Give champions ownership of the channels they’re most experienced with and passionate about. Don’t make your video content champion the person who has never held a camera before.

4. Give volunteers and service users a meaningful role
At Third Sector Lab we spend a lot of our time training volunteers and service users to become social reporters for third sector conferences and events. The rich audio and video content these reporters create really tells the story of a conference in the way a written report cannot. How can you involve volunteers and service users in your online communications in a way that empowers them and tells their story?

5. Make sure the Chief Executive believes
The organisations that thrive in the social space are usually the ones who have a Chief Executive that values staff involvement. Just look at Young Scot – their online presence is driven by Louise MacDonald’s belief that social media can help bring about social good. More importantly she trusts her staff to get the job done using whatever tools necessary. While it can feel an uphill struggle at times, getting people from across the organisation involved in social media is worth the pain. People connect with people – they don’t connect with faceless, branded corporate accounts. If you want to use social media as a campaigning, fundraising and potentially service delivery channel you need to remember that.

Do you have any top tips for getting staff involved in your social media presence?

Like Minds 2010 – Calling all social media savvy charities

If you’re even remotely interested in social media then a trip to Like Minds 2010 should be in your diary. It’s worth the £50 entry fee just to hear Steve Bridger speak.

Despite the general awesomeness of the Like Minds event, one element leaves a rather sour taste in the mouth – The Like Minds Summit. The summit is all about bringing together the best social media case studies, a white paper will be drawn up to form “the industry standard in Social Media implementation”. All sounds great so far. The problem is you’ll need to cough up £1.5k to join the summit and have your case study included.

As Richard Baker points out this isn’t going to be short change to most UK charities. Richard’s blog post has sparked a healthy debate on this matter and Trey Pennington has generously agreed to assist any charity wishing to take part:

“In the unlikely event that a non-profit organization submits a case study which meets submission requirements and is selected (the submission process is free and open to all), and they cannot afford the £1,500, I will make a contribution towards their fee and do the fundraising to get the balance for them.”

That sounds like a challenge.

Dogs Trust, Bullying UK, Quarriers, ENABLE Scotland and the many other non-profits effectively using social media…why not take up Trey’s offer and showcase what you’ve managed to achieve?