November 21, 2015
Every few years I try and raise some money for a good cause and this year I decided to make that (St Mary’s Hospice)[http://www.stmaryshospice.org.uk/] for the second time. Unlike my lake swim last time I went for something a bit less dangerous but a whole lot more personal, shaving my head and waxing all the hair off my body. To try and make as much cash as I could I used a few digital tools along the way.
Bits of this might sound mercenary but please don’t read them that way, to raise the maximum amount for the charity I decided to double down on my promotion efforts.
First thing was to get a Just Giving page up with a suitably linkbait title Back, sack, crack and beyond! with the story of why I’m raising money and a picture that was safe for sharing but showed my hairiness.
Second thing was to create a short URL for this http://bit.ly/waxwood. I actually had to do this because when I tried to paste a link into our companies internal social network the word “crack” was not allowed (ho hum). However there are advantages to the short url, especially because adding a + to the end of a bit.ly address gives you access to the stats for that page.
I’d already planned to use a few Kickstart style incentives as I had done with my lake swim. The more people gave the more they got in return. Donations over £25 got you access to the livestream of the event on the night (I’d no idea how to do this yet), more than £50 and you got to have something written on me for the world to see. It’s a simple formula but it works well.
They’re not my favourite platform, but they work well and people are very familiar with them. There were a few things which I learnt along the way too:
The first thing I did once I had the page created and in reasonable nick was to add links to it from my Twitter profile and to post it to Facebook. Both obvious but easily forgotten. The nature of the Facebook timeline means posts are often not seen by a lots of people, and that the first time you post something it is more likely to be shown to people, so make the most of this first post. I tagged in a few bearded friends (more likely to understand the pain of my planned evening) to help draw people in. I also replied to every comment.
I am genuinely thankful every time somebody donates and amazed at the generosity of friends and complete strangers. Every time somebody donated I tried to thank them via an appropriate media. If we were friends on Facebook I wrote on my wall tagging them in (thus it’s seen by my friends and them lus possibly their friends). If it was twitter I made a public tweet not a DM. Each time I included the BitLy link so that as friends of friends saw the post they too might donate. The only time I didn’t do this was if a donation was anonymous and then I tried to privately message the person.
I did a few updates along the way (there was a 2 month run up to the event) to help boost the signal and to entertain people who’d donated. This included explaining I’d stopped all shaving activity and posting a beard/body hair progress shot.
Just like tagging in bearded friends on Facebook I went to seek out those who would understand my pain. Top of that list was the brilliant and thoughtful dating site for beard lovers, Bristlr. I got in touch and asked if they’d run a blog post about what I was up to and they agreed. As they said themselves We don’t often promote shaving – as beard fans it really goes against what we’re all about. But we can always make an exception, especially when it’s for a great cause. One of the things I’ve always admired in Bristlr is the thought they put into gender, relationships and sexuality. I hoped my thoughts on the effects of shaving would be of interest to them.
Beautician (my old chum Leeanne) and location sorted (the wonderful The Nest in Low Fell) there were a few things to sort on the night, namely video livestreaming.
After a lot of fiddling with Google Hangout (difficult to share), YouTube Live (has to be tied to a Google+ account and difficult to restrict) I ended up tweeting my woes and had old hand Christian @documentally suggest bambuser.com. After a quick nose about it looked like they would do the job nicely. I’d originally wanted a very private livestream (password protected ideally) but this turned out to be pretty difficult without getting everybody to sign up to the same service in advance. Bambuser however allows you to embed your feed into a page as an iFrame, so I threw up a quick page on here, didn’t link to it and away we went.
The Bambuser app is excellent to use and so long as you can remind people to keep the phone landscape, all is well. There’s a live count of the number of people watching too which is fun.
Shaving and waxing aside, the night went very smoothly.
After it was all over and I’d recovered a bit (two hours and forty minutes of having your hair ripped out by the roots is exhausting) I tried to make the most of the tail. Retweeting tweets (using the “quote tweet” method to add in a hashtag and the bit.ly link) helped drive a few more donations. Reposting and thanking people on Facebook picked up a few more.
One thing that amazed me was how many people knew nothing about it, despite me tweeting, posting and sharing it far more than I was comfortable. It’s obvious that Facebook pretty heavily filters people’s streams. Even good friends only saw it after the event when I shared photos.
I downloaded the Bambuser video and then removed it (I don’t want this online forever), downloaded all the Facebook photos and imported them into Shotwell on my laptop and last of all wrote this. Now onto next years challenge.
There’s nothing I’ve done that most geeks won’t roll their eyes at, but put together it’s been pretty effective.
All relating to more promotion and better findability.