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Amanda Neylon

Our Head of Digital talks to Zoe Amar about creating an innovative culture on social media:

Read Zoe’s blog post

Happy Twitterversary: Digital Twitter account's 5th birthday

We celebrate our Twitterversary

It’s been five years since we launched Macmillan’s digital Twitter account @mac_digtal and what started as a digital hatchling in 2010, has blossomed into a hashtagging T-Rex. 

Over the years, not only has our Twitter following grown, but the Digital team here in the office has more than doubled in size. This means more news, more exciting projects and more digital activity. Okay, so we’re no @macmillancancer (305,000 followers to date!), but we think of ourselves as small yet mighty, finding the most interesting topical news and delivering it with a smile.

In the last 90 days, we’ve averaged one new follower a day- which we think is pretty great- and we’ve kept those followers up to speed with just about everything, from new digital innovations and charity campaigns that interest us to job opportunities within the team.

Cut yourself a slice of that leftover Coffee Morning cake and take a look at our top 5 tweets of all time:


Top tweets


9 retweets: Celebrating 5 years of the digital twitter account.


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14 retweets: Encouraging our following to take the survey and share their thoughts on the website redesign.


Top tweet of all time asking our followers to check out our new site launch and take the survey to tell us what they thought. It got 21 Retweets.

Needless to say our hashtagging game has of course been #excellent….

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and our top mentions show that we especially love to tweet about what our Head of Digital, Amanda, has been doing. Well she does do a lot!

Top mentions: @amandaneylon, @macmillancancer, @robsterlini, @we_are_nomensa and @youtube

Do you follow the @mac_digital account? If not, there’s no time like the present. FOLLOW US HERE.

Check out our Head of Digital Amanda Neylon’s interview in Figaro Digital ahead of her appearance at their Figaro Digital Marketing Conference next week.

Read the interview

Two girls post-ice bucket challenge

Why we got all hot and bothered over the #IceBucketChallenge

Macmillan’s Head of Digital Amanda Neylon talks about the recent social media activity and how we’re working together to respond to our audiences.

The #IceBucketChallenge has reached social media nirvana in the past two weeks. My mum’s done it. Your mum’s done it. This guy did it at the top of a mountain and probably would have won the whole thing if it was a competition (which it isn’t, to be clear).

We certainly never expected it to get this big.

Before we begin though, let’s be straight: we don’t own the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag. Nobody does. It’s a hashtag. And it’s something that in the charity sector, we need to continue to have a healthy debate about.

We’ve seen thousands of our supporters braving the challenge for us in the past few weeks. And we think it’s awesome that they’ve chosen to do it for us. But people are also drenching themselves for other charities, and that’s just great too. Whoever people choose to raise money for, we’re just delighted that people are fundraising.

We certainly didn’t start the trend of people pouring a bucket of ice water on their head. We’re not too sure where it started, but you can find a pretty good piece on the history of the trend here.

So what do we know?

We know that in July, we began noticing that our supporters were talking about the #IceBucketChallenge on social media. Some of them did it for Macmillan, and some of them did it for other charities of their choice. We thought it seemed like a fun way to raise money.

At this point, we’d seen people in New Zealand doing it and then choosing a cancer charity of their choice to donate to. And this was all happening before David Beckham et al started tipping a bucket on their head in the US to raise awareness for ALS.

So what did we do about it?

It’s simple. We listened to our supporters, and amplified their actions.

We started posting on our social media channels, and published a little page of instructions on how to do the challenge, which was the top organic search result for weeks. As search traffic started increasing, we also began some PPC (pay per click) advertising, and promoted some of our supporters amazing #IceBucketChallenge’s on Facebook and Twitter. Along with media and PR, this is a normal part of any organisation’s marketing campaign.

After all, it’s because of our supporters’ brilliant fundraising efforts that we’re able to keep providing our vital services. We exist because of them, and with two million people in the UK currently living with cancer, it’s only right that we get behind their efforts. So far #icebucketchallenge has raised enough to fund six Macmillan nurses for a year, meaning that more people can have access to specialist support. That’s got to be a good thing.

As a digital team here at Macmillan, we never used to be quite so responsive. It’s a recent thing for us. And believe me, we’re still learning.

Our biggest learning curve was after the #nomakeselfie campaign. James Higgot summed it up pretty well recently on Twitter:

Criticism of Macmillan for ‘hijacking’ #IceBucketChallenge is nothing compared to bollocking they prob got for not hijacking #nomakeupselfie

Ouch, that hurts James. But it’s true. He’s right, we were too slow – it was a big motivator to be much better the next time an opportunity came along.

So, since #nomakeupselfie, I’d like to think that we’ve had some success with #tubestrike and #thatsmydad. We’re trying to be bolder, we’re listening to what’s going on all over the world, and we’re responding more quickly than we have in the past. We’re trying new things so that we can keep moving forward as an organisation.

And now #IceBucketChallenge. It’s certainly kept us busy here at Macmillan HQ, and we’ve really pulled together, with teams all around the organisation helping out, getting involved and amplifying the message.

Zoe Amar summed up our #IceBucketChallenge actions pretty well:

Macmillan simply listened to their audience & noticed they had an appetite to use the #icebucketchallenge

I’d really recommend reading her article on the #IceBucketChallenge. It’s a good lesson for charities to learn, big or small.

But I’d like to think that we’re becoming a more responsive organisation. One that puts people affected by cancer and our supporters at the heart of everything we do.

You can read more about our views on the #IceBucketChallenge here.

Personalisation is the future of Digital

CEO of Flipboard Mike McCue stated in a recent article that personalisation is the future of Digital. Macmillan’s head of Digital Amanda Neylon agrees, but what does it mean and what does it look like for Macmillan? Rebecca Cryan looks at some of the ways we’re personalising user’s experience of the Macmillan website over the next year or so.

We all know that the web is moving away from a blanket approach to marketing, where a universal message is pumped out to everyone. Tracking and data mean that companies can now offer targeted ads based on user preferences, browsing history and personal information. For companies this means that they can get their messages in front of the right people, the people who are likely to act on them. For consumers this means that (in theory) they see more relevant ads and fewer irrelevant ones.

Last year a survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and supported by Lyris suggested that consumers are receptive to this kind of personalisation: ‘48% of respondents said they like to receive product recommendations based on their interests compared to 20% who gave a negative response.’ (From the e-consultancy blog)

Most conversations about personalisation centre on targeted marketing, but what of content? Mike says in his article that ‘We’re moving towards this…world where content can be atomized and reconstructed around interests or topics that someone’s really passionate about.’ There exist thousands of tools and sites for curating content from around the web. Whether it’s creating your own magazine on Flipboard, pinning content from across the web to your virtual pin board on Pinterest or aggregating tweets, photos, videos and posts about an event on Storify, users can curate the web to create completely personalised experiences.

At Macmillan we have thousands of pages of cancer information, currently our site structure allows you to search for the content that’s most relevant to you, and it’s pretty easy and intuitive. But if you’ve got prostate cancer then information about cervical cancer isn’t going to be relevant to you. The impatient web user doesn’t have time to sort the relevant from the irrelevant, so we need to organise relevant content for them.

Currently we do this in a similar way to Flipboard (an app which allows you to create your own online magazines based on your interests) using keyword tagging to group information in search results, and our team of editors who cross-pollinate content from one area of the site to another, adding links to a financial guidance tool to our pages about benefits for example. McCue says: ‘As we thought about how we’d populate this personal magazine…we realized there needed to be a human touch here, and have people who were thoughtful about who were the best sources, and what was the best content.’

Some of our forthcoming Digital projects will go further and allow you to curate the Macmillan website to make it completely relevant to you and your experience.

Whether you’re a fundraiser who wants to collect information about your event in one place, or someone going through chemo who needs to gather relevant information and advice from the community in one place to refer back to, the future Macmillan website will allow you to personalise your experience. Our single-sign-on project which will eventually bring all of Macmillan’s web properties under one sign-on will allow us to ask users their preferences and interests which will let us offer personalised content to each user.

Users will also have a hub or dashboard where they can control their interactions with Macmillan and see this personalised content. The user will be in control of their experience and their preferences for contact levels and frequency.

Effectively, each person accessing the Macmillan website will have a completely different experience of our content. The most important thing is that these experiences are consistent in their quality, and that the user is in control.

I’ll be bringing you more information about these projects over the next year.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

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