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Macmillan

Left: Batteries Not Included Team present their prototype to Macmillan staff. Right: Screenshot of digital MISS bus alert.

Hackathon 4.0: Digital innovation at Macmillan

Our Digital Assistant, Addy Olutunmogun, reports from Macmillan’s fourth Digital Development Hack Day. She talks to participants and organisers to find out more about the event’s evolution and significance.

If you want to see problem-solving at its most innovative, creative and inspiring, look no further than Macmillan’s Hack Day. 4 original ideas to help us deliver for people affected by cancer, 4 dedicated teams of tech whizzes, 1 day to create a prototype.

‘an important opportunity to demonstrate what technology can bring to Macmillan’

— Chris Trenning, Agile software coach

Office board displaying different Hack Day ideas

The 12 shortlisted Hack Day ideas – whittled down from over 40!

Our Hack Day has grown from a team-building exercise amongst digital development staff to an event that encourages input from across the organisation. In doing so, this summer’s event, perhaps more than any other, has shown how technology can help us deliver in a variety of novel ways.

The Organisers

I spoke to Steve Knight, a web development team leader, and Chris Trenning, Agile software coach, who’ve masterminded this year’s Hack Day.

Why do you think Hack Day is so important for Macmillan?

Steve: Hack Days [a.k.a Hackathons] are a great way to generate ideas, promote a culture of innovation and encourage the use of new technology. We’re an ambitious charity and we need to take advantage of new technology and ways of thinking to help us achieve our mission.

Chris: Hack Day is an important opportunity to demonstrate what technology can bring to Macmillan. People tend to shy away from technology, if they’re not working in it, because they feel they don’t understand. If you’ve got an area you know nothing about, you can sometimes be dismissive. Hack Days help to break down those barriers. They demystify what we do and the people who do it and so remove that fear of interaction.   The event also allows the Technology team to exhibit some pride. They can show off – and I think that’s really healthy for them!

How has Hack Day evolved?

Chris: It’s more inclusive and every event gets a wider audience.

Steve: This year we asked the whole charity for Hack Day ideas and we had over 40 ideas submitted! They came from 6 of our 7 Directorates and included staff from all over the country as well as some home workers. It’s great to get such nationwide engagement with the project. We have also listened to our teams and changed the format of the day accordingly. For example, this time the teams were able to present their ideas in a market stall format the following day instead of formal presentations we used to do.

Chris: We listened to what people liked and didn’t like about previous hack days and used this to develop the format. There is now no overall winner [prizes are awarded to the teams for their efforts and to encourage some friendly competition], the teams now have an opportunity to win in 5 different categories:

  • Innovation – Is tech being used in a novel way?
  • Creativity – Are you surprised by the way the product works?
  • Technology – Is it clever? Does the implementation demonstrate something new?
  • UX and Presentation – Is it easy to use? Does the design make it enjoyable to use?
  • Marketability – Can you imagine this product being utilised in the organisation?
  • Best team name!

We designed this to ensure everyone has an equal chance to win and to recognise value in each prototype produced.

What future do you envisage for Hack Day?

Steve: It would be great if the event became a collaboration with different teams and not just Digital Development. Hack Days can be much more than a technical exercise. They can involve working out a process, coming up with designs – anything you want them to be really. Our involvement [the Technology team] will mainly be coding, but other teams can contribute a lot of different approaches and ideas. A representative from Macmillan’s Innovation team came to an ideas workshop for this Hack Day along with members of the UX, creative and editorial teams. They are all very interested in getting more involved so the future is promising for Hack Days at Macmillan!

The Teams

So, who are these amazing techies taking on this challenge for Macmillan? Steve kindly invited me up to the lofty 17th floor to meet them.

Team Beaver Members: Richard x2, Reinaldo, Nuzhat, Andreea

A member of Team Beaver explains his prototype to a member of staff.

Team Beaver explain why their gamification tool is a winner.

Tell us about the project? Gamification of giving. We’re tying donations and volunteering into a points system that you can get achievements for. Depending on how much you contribute, you’ll earn badges that you can share on your social media profile.

What do you enjoy most about Hack Day? Working together.

Team Floppy

Members: Harald, Milan, Suneetha, Swathi, Shenika

Left: Harald guides staff through this team's transcription tool prototype. Right: a screenshot of the prototype interface.

Harald guides staff through his team’s transcription tool prototype.

Tell us about the project? A tool that converts speech to text and stores it in a database. It will allow us to record Macmillan Support Line (MSL) calls so users won’t have to repeat answers and help staff quickly identify users’ needs.

Team Brahma

Members: Raghu, Adrian, Beni, Ashish

Team Brahma present their Good News page.

Team Brahma show off their Good News page.

Tell us about the project? We’re creating a Good News page that gives users flexibility to see news articles from chosen topics and filter out negative news.

Why did you decide to take part in Hack Day? We love the stress! It’s a challenge as we have to tackle tech we haven’t used before. We’re learning on the go and it’s a great opportunity to learn new things.

Batteries Not Included

Members: John, Mo, Sam, Dino

 

Left: Batteries Not Included Team present their prototype to Macmillan staff. Right: Screenshot of digital MISS bus alert.

Batteries Not Included try to win over staff with their MISS bus tool.

What are you working on? Using IP location software to give users relevant Macmillan information. Today we focused on using the tool to promote our MISS (Mobile Information Support Services) buses but there is potential for the idea to signpost people to a range of local services like coffee mornings.

Why is Hack Day important to you? It gives us a chance to develop applications for areas of need that aren’t always prioritised.

The Winners

If trying to develop these ambitious projects in a day wasn’t hard enough, the teams then had to present their work in a 2-hour market stall. Staff where invited to check out the prototypes and cast their votes.

The results were…

Most Innovative Hack Winner: Team Floppy

Most Creative Hack Winner: Team Brahma

Best use of Technology Winners (draw): Team Floppy and Team Brahma

Best User Experience and Presentation Winner: Team Beaver

Most Marketable Hack Winner: Batteries not Included

Best Team Name Winner: Batteries not Included

Congratulations teams!!

What do you think? Who would be your winner? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Similarly, if you’ve ever attended a Hack Day, let us know. Was it any good?

3 simple steps to building customised campaign URLs

Digital Comms Officer, Rebecca McCormick, shares her top tips about building customised campaign URLs and finding them in Google Analytics.

1a. What are customised campaign URLs?

Customised campaign URLs are destination URLs that have campaign tracking (or “parameters”) added onto the end of them. These “parameters” allow you to easily identify the campaigns that send traffic to your site, in Google Analytics.

1b. When do I need to use them?

Customised campaign URLs can be used for all types of online marketing activity that drive traffic to your site – ads, PPC, paid social, organic social, email marketing, etc.

For example, you might not want to just see your incoming traffic from Twitter, but whether that traffic is the result of a particular series of tweets. Or, you might not want to see the influx of traffic from a newsletter, but whether that traffic is the result of a particular banner or link in the email itself.

2. How do I build a customised campaign URL?

To build a customised campaign URL, you will need to use the Campaign URL Builder tool, filling out the fields below. You must fill out the first 4 fields which are shown below:

Capture7

1. The “Website URL” is the full webpage URL you are directing traffic to.

2. The “Source” is the “referrer” – what specific source brought traffic to the webpage. This could be “google”, “newsletter1”, “twitter”, “exampleblog” etc.

3. The “Medium” is the “marketing medium” – the type of activity that brought traffic to the webpage. This could be “organic”, “email”, “banner”, “cpc”, “referral” etc.

4. The “Name” is how you want to name and identify your specific campaign, promotion, or product. This could be “notalone2017”, “givingtuesday”, “longestdaygolf” etc.

“Term” and “Content” are optional fields, often used when creating customised campaign URLs for paid search or ads. For when to use these fields, please see the definitions below:

tg

For consistency, it’s best to fill in the fields using lowercase with no spaces and no special characters.

As you are filling in the fields, or making any changes to fields, the URL will be automatically updated below. Click “Copy URL” to copy the full URL. Alternatively, click “Convert URL to Short Link” to convert the full URL to a shortened Google one. Shortened URLs are useful when a full URL is difficult for users to remember, or looks confusing or unattractive for users. Another option is to convert your customised campaign URL using a URL shortening site.

3. How can I find data for my customised campaign in Google Analytics?

Log in to Google Analytics.

1. Select your chosen “view” and date range in the top right-hand corner. Navigate to: Acquisition > Campaigns > All campaigns.

2. Type the name of your campaign (that you used when creating the customised campaign URL) into the search function. If you can’t see your campaign, check that you entered it correctly or try typing in just part of the campaign name. You can also click “show rows” in the bottom right-hand corner, to show more rows.  Isolate your campaign from any others by clicking on it (the name, in blue).

3. You’ll then be able to see the data arranged by “source/medium” (based on the naming conventions that you entered when creating the customised URLs). You can isolate one “source/medium” from any others by clicking on it (the name, in blue). If a specific “source/medium” is not showing, try clicking “show rows” in the bottom right-hand corner, to show more rows.

4. If you want, you can then select the box next to your “source/medium” and click “plot rows” (just above it) to plot its performance over time. Or you can click “Export” at the top of the report, to export the data to a csv or pdf.

5. When exporting data, remember to click the “day”, “month” or “year” button, and select the metrics that you would like (using the drop-downs above the graph e.g., “Sessions” and “New Users”) to dictate format and content of your csv data.

 

Screen with illustration example of a Google text ad

Say hello to Google’s new expanded text ads

This week, Rebecca Buchanan, Digital Marketing Officer at Macmillan, gives us an overview of the recent changes to Google AdWords and its impact on our search ads, as well as tips for creating expanded text ads.

Have you heard about one of the latest changes to Google AdWords? We only have until January 31st, 2017 to change all Standard Text Ads to the new Expanded Text Ad (ETA) format. So if not, it’s time to find out more.

Read more +

Inside UX: An Interview with Bruce Waskett

Curious about UX? Bruce Waskett, former Head of UX and UI at Macmillan explains what it is, and how it fits in at Macmillan.

What is UX and why is it important?

User experience (UX) has become a very over-used and misunderstood term in our industry for a few years now. It has always been a broad-ranging skill and discipline but certain terms are often picked up on and become the ‘must have’ thing for organisations and people.

Read more +

Periscope and Facebook Live logos

Live video: Experience the world through someone else’s eyes

In this post, Bernard Muscat, Senior Social Media Officer at Macmillan, aims to demystify live video, identify key live-streaming platforms and provide best practice tips for creating engaging live content.

We are seeing a large increase in live video content on social media.  By tuning in to live video, users can experience the world through someone else’s eyes. For example, you could be at home in the UK and watch live events from the streets of New York City, Bangkok, or Melbourne, if someone is holding up their device and live-steaming.  Users watching the live video are able to follow live, respond and interact with the live content.

Read more +

Mailbox with envelopes flying out of it, representing email

Using automation to personalise email campaigns

This week, Bryony Ashcroft, Digital Editor at Macmillan, spoke to our Email Marketing Officer, Fearn Sandison about how she is using automation to personalise our email campaigns.

Read more +

Instagram Stories: New feature launched today

In this post, Social Media Officer, Alice Hajek, talks about the introduction of Instagram’s new feature – Instagram Stories and what it means for Macmillan.

Today, Instagram launched a new feature ‘Instagram Stories’, in an attempt to fill the platform with less polished, more real time content. Very similar in name (well, pretty much the same name) to Snapchat’s My Story function, the new feature allows you to share photos of your day that you may not have published to your Instagram profile ordinarily. These photos, just like Snapchat, will disappear within 24 hours. You can also use their drawing tools and emojis to enhance your photos (like Snapchat).

Read more +

Icons of graphs and devices to represent google analytics

Google Analytics: An interview with our Digital Analyst

Hattie Biddlecombe, Digital Analyst at Macmillan Cancer Support, uses Google Analytics to provide insight into Macmillan’s online presence. I sat down with Hattie earlier this week to discuss how Google Analytics helps her in her role and the impact that it has on Macmillan.

Read more +

Snapchat logo with QR code background

Get snap-happy

If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing a dog-face or rainbow vomit lens and felt scared, confused, or indeed delighted, you have Snapchat to thank for that. Social Media Officer, Hayley Devlin explains the who, what, and why of Snapchat - the five-year-old chat app that’s surprised everyone.

Snapchat is having its moment in the sun. Since launching in 2011 the platform has grown rapidly and is hailed as the go to app for teens and millennials. In 2015 Snapchat’s estimated project revenue was $50 million and its creators turned down an offer of $3 billion from Facebook. Not bad for disappearing images.

But why? What is it is about Snapchat that’s taken it from faddy-app to social media powerhouse? And why is it that ‘old’ people just can’t seem to get on board? (As of March 2015 over 71% of all Snapchat users were under the age of 34).
On a personal level, Snapchat is great fun and is a growing platform; in 2015 it had 100 million daily active users. It’s a platform that businesses and organisations simply can’t choose to ignore.
Snapchat is like being the star of your own reality TV show. To me, that’s why so many teens and millennials can’t seem to put it down. Thanks to the ‘My Story’ function, we’ve been able to film our lives in 10 second clips and pictures and leave them for all our friends to see for 24 hours. Snapchat gives users the chance to share intimate/funny/personal moments with the people they care about in a way that feels more personal and private than Facebook or Instagram.
Snapchat is creative. The ‘draw’ feature (the pencil icon that appears in the top right corner when once you’ve taken a picture) allows users to turn their pictures into works of art and ‘face swap’ has turned into a craze. If you haven’t had a play with the face filters yet, I’d highly recommend entertaining yourself for 15 minutes or so. Simply switch to your front facing camera, hold a finger on your face until Snapchat recognises it and swipe through the filters you want.

The real, and new found, power of Snapchat comes when you step away from the personal and begin harnessing it to reach a much wider audience. Some of the biggest players in online news and entertainment produce content for Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ channel on a daily basis. Celebrities such as Chris Pratt, the Kardashian-Jenner clan and DJ Khaled (king of Snapchat) are using the platform to deliver self produced content straight to their fans. Football teams and brands are also on board with the likes of Manchester City, FC Barcelona, Selfridges, Nike and McDonalds all creating content to add to their ‘Stories’ on daily basis. You can even follow the White House.
It’s also being used for good. In India, Rajshekar Patil, Avani Parekh and Nida Sheriff are using the app in a way that allows young people in abusive relationships to reach out to them and get help they wanted to create a helpline that young people would feel safe enough to use. To add them and see for yourselves just search for ‘lovedoctordotin’ on the app.

In February, Snapchat released it’s ‘On Demand Geofilters’ and opened up another way to advertise on the platform. Geofilters are banners you can add to your pictures according to where you are. To access them you have to have allowed Snapchat location access and all major cities, landmarks and universities have them.The Shard with Snapchat Geofilter applied. Text reads, ' The City'.

These Geofilters are free and known as ‘Community Geofilters’. ‘On Demand Geofilters’ give brands the opportunity to pay for and create their own geofilters set to a location of their choosing. Individuals can do this on too, with Snapchat touting weddings as the perfect excuse for something so personalised. With prices starting from $5 they’ve made them affordable and accessible. The process is fairly simply, you design your geofilter, upload it to Snapchat, select the date and how long you’d like it to run, select the location, and send it off to Snapchat for approval or denial. If they deny, they’ll usually give you a reason why.

 It was a no brainer that Macmillan had to have Geofilters for the upcoming London Marathon, so I worked with the creative team to get a few designed. We’ve got four filters being used across the day, so if you happen to be at our cheer points in Monument, Embankment or Canary Wharf, be sure to snap and use our filter. There’s also one at the finish line. You can find them by taking a picture and then swiping left or right until you find ours.

Beyond the frivolous fun of Geofilters, Snapchat opens Macmillan up to a wider audience. It’s an opportunity to showcase our various challenge events and adds extra buzz to our fundraising events. It gives us the opportunity to run intimate Q&As with our experts that will remain on the platform for 24 hours at a time. We already know that our main demographic is women aged 35-55 and at a time where we’re trying to get younger audiences to care about our cause, Snapchat could be the key we need.

Snapchat how-tos

Find a Geofilter:

  1. Take a photo.
  2. Swipe right or left until you come across an image like the one above.
  3. Press the arrow in the bottom right corner, select who you’d like to send it to and send your snap.

Take a selfie with a filter:

  1. Switch to front facing camera by tapping the camera icon in the top right hand corner.
  2. Hold a finger on your face until Snapchat recognises it.
  3. Swipe through filters (rainbow vomit is my favourite).
  4. Press the circular button to take a picture or hold it down to film.
  5. Tap the arrow in the bottom right corner, select who you’d like to send you snap to and send it!

 

Three different Snapchat lenses - Aged, rainbow vomit, and scary.

Questions about this post? Leave us a comment below or tweet us @mac_digital. We’d love to hear from you!

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