beautiful bytes – It’s been a Google week
Record day for foursquare
On 16 April (we appreciate a cleverly dated event – literally four squared!) the foursquare community organized over 1,200 foursquare events and 19 mayors declared official 4sqDay in their cities. On the day, foursquare peaked at its highest number of check-ins in one day so far – over 3 million!
Many people used 4sqDay as an opportunity to host charitable events, such as cake sales or charity drives at their local restaurants and, whilst it’s unclear exactly how much was raised in these mini communities, it certainly shows the potential of foursquare to bring groups of local people together for grass roots fundraising.
Google refreshes analytics
Google Analytics, which captures data on website traffic and provides insights into online marketing effectiveness, is a fundamental tool for many charity digital departments (because it’s absolutely free, so accessible to anyone!). The information gained through this tool is – or should be – used to help direct users easily and seamlessly to focal pages on your website, such as a donation page, a volunteering page or perhaps a fundraising challenge registration page.
At beautiful world, we’re a fan of anything that helps to optimise charities’ online activity (we would be, wouldn’t we?), so we were interested to hear that the Google Analytics site has been revamped and some new features have been added to make assessing online activity simpler and more customisable. Google Analytics v5 allows for a more personal homepage configuration, to make it easier to find the information you look at regularly. It has also added multiple dashboards, so that each department can have its own custom homepage and can filter out the information that isn’t relevant to their individual targets. Another exciting development is the Event Goals feature, which allows you to track more types of site interactions as goals, e.g. number of PDF downloads or printouts. Charities usually have so many objectives to deliver from engagement with supporter and stakeholder groups – including raising awareness, fundraising, campaigning, information and service provision – so it should be a great bonus for departments to be able to set their own, specific goals for engagement, behaviour and actions on the charity’s website or websites, and be able to measure success regularly through these. We hope it allows more people to take ownership of the web analytics for their area of responsibility, and end the days of having to beg the IT department for the information once and for all!
More new features have been released, and promised, and we look forward to trying them out and to even easier access to all of that data and insight.
Get more out of your YouTube videos
Continuing with the web analytics theme, YouTube has recently released a tool that puts detailed data about video views into an easy interface for a quick and uncomplicated glimpse into the effectiveness of each clip.
The way in which the ‘Partner Analytics’ data is set out follows many of the conventions of Google Analytics, and shows the creator not only how many views and unique views individual videos have gained but also viewer demographics and a subscribers and playback report.
“… a lot of partners want to come in quickly within the browser interface to see how they’re doing, see how their videos are performing and get some feedback by which they can optimize their videos or their creative process,” explains Andy Stack, YouTube product manager for partner reporting and financial profitability.
Video is an invaluable medium for many charities – its nature allows for a more human angle to communications and it can supporters so much closer to your charity’s work. Being able to map how their viewers use their channel and access content will provide charities with deeper and more useful insights into the effectiveness of their online video content than simply measuring view totals – and allow them to continually improve it for even better results.
Google pushes into social games
Google took another small step into the social realm last month by releasing Google +1 – a social-search service which lets users vote on search results, then combines those votes with each user’s social connections to influence search results. Now it is looking to expand its online community with the development of a Facebook style social gaming platform. According to the Business Insider, a LinkedIn job posting, uncovered by TechCrunch, advertises for ‘Product Manager, Games’, which is a strong suggestion that Google is pushing ahead with a bigger social plan that many have speculated upon over the past few months.
If this does go ahead, there could be potential for charities to benefit from further developments in social gaming. Zynga, developers of FarmVille, Mafia Wars and other unexpectedly popular online games, rolled out a ‘Sweet Seeds’ programme last year to benefit Haiti. Players use real money to purchase virtual goods and progress in the game, this real money was turned into real donations by the company to aid in the recovery of the Haitian earthquake disaster. Zynga players managed to raise $1.5 million in less than a week – not to be sniffed at.
Launch of Facebook Deals
Back in February (a digital lifetime ago), we blogged about the launch of Facebook Places Deals, which allowed brands to ‘join the conversation’ and set up offers for people who checked-in at their locations – in a similar as you can on foursquare. This was a small taste of a bigger group-buying service that was in the pipeline for the social network; Facebook Deals, which was released today.
Facebook hopes that its heavy involvement in the communications and activities of networks of friends means that it will be able to send out more finely tuned messages than its rivals. Deals will be relevant to you and can be sent to your email, but are more likely to show up in your newsfeed, and will be available to buy with Facebook credits.
We’re wondering whether Facebook Deals could extend to charities, to enable crowdsourcing of funds for an appeal or project through people’s established social graphs? The opportunity here for charities to tap into a vast amounts of information about the preferences and spending habits of their supporters and their networks could be a really exciting development for the sector if used in a clever and interesting way.