How #charities & #socialenterprises can create great #socialmedia content (30 pages)

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How #charities & #socialenterprises can create great #socialmedia content


consider the event at hand and tailor our messaging to
address current concerns and information needs. This
helps us turn people’s attention to the apps at times
when it is most relevant.”

The Red Cross’ investment in the app has had great
impact on both the organisation and its beneficiaries.
“Our apps are now on more than 3.6 million mobile
devices across the country,” Matt says. “People aren’t
just downloading the apps, they are definitely using them.
More than 400,000 people downloaded our Hurricane
App during Superstorm Sandy (in October 2012). Right
before and during Sandy, users spent the most time
reading the preparedness information, tracking the
storm, and reading and then sharing alerts through social
media. Immediately after the storm, people used the app
to locate Red Cross Shelters and to let loved ones know
that they were safe. Real-time recovery information was
added to the app so users could find locations of Red
Cross food and bulk distribution sites, locations of FEMA
disaster recovery centres and open gas stations to help
those affected by the storm.”

Why It Works

Patricia McDonald, Chief Strategy Officer at
communications agency Isobar, notes that the “app works
because it directly leverages the native functionality
of the phone. This is an area where apps command a
huge advantage over the mobile web experience and
something all too few applications really capitalise on.
As well as thinking hard about all the different aspects of
native mobile functionality the app can leverage, the Red
Cross has also thought hard about the user journey and
the app’s many different uses, enabling users to choose
to access the app in different ways before, during and
after a storm. This means the app can accommodate
significant amounts of useful information at the planning
and preparation stage without getting in the way of the
user who needs essential information during a storm.”

“Even the more information-heavy sections of the app,”
Patricia continues, “are designed to nudge the user into
action with quizzes, checklists and toolkits to break
content down into bite-sized, actionable chunks. There
are some useful learnings here for anyone developing

a mobile application, not only those within the charity
sector.” Chief among these are:

• Make it unique. A mobile app should not simply offer a

user-friendly version of your web experience. A mobile
app can do anything a phone can. An app knows where
the user is, it can access their contacts and social
networks, it can detect motion and sound and capture
images. A mobile app that does not leverage these
native functions is missing a trick.

• Mobile vs. desktop. Think about how users consume

content on mobile versus desktop; think about how you
can make it as simple and action-orientated as possible.

• Simplicity. While not every application will be used in a

crisis, mobile users across a range of sectors do need
to be able to complete tasks as quickly and effortlessly
as possible. Think carefully about the most important
and time sensitive use cases for your app (this might
be payment, booking or registration) and ensure they
are both effortless (pre-populate forms, partner with
seamless mobile payment solutions) and quickly and
easily discoverable.

The Red Cross Hurricane app is an excellent example of
an application that strategically uses everything mobile
has to offer. The app also serves as an extension of the
mission and activities of the Red Cross.


• Have a business case – Just because you can

build an app, doesn’t mean that you should. Have
a proper business case and understand what
value the app will add to your organisation.

• Differentiate – If you decide to build an app,

make sure that it has unique features that will
differentiate it from other apps. Get creative;
give people a reason to download it.

• Audience – Understand exactly who your users

will be. Seek feedback during the development
process and constantly refine it.

• Coordinate – Actively work with your networks

to spread information about your app and use
your analytics to see where and when you’re
getting the most engagement.

Connect with the American Red Cross

“The ‘Download the App’ call-to-action
is now a part of our organisation’s DNA.
We promote all of our apps nationally and
through our network of more than 500
individual chapters across the country.”

Matt Goldfeder
Senior Director of Mobile Product Development,
American Red Cross

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