Way back in August 2009, I wrote a blog for Professional Fundraising (as it was known then) about how the newly released Facebook Connect (as it was known then) gave websites the ability to personalise content based on people’s Facebook data to an unprecedented level. I was really excited about how charities could personalise their campaigns with this integration, but it’s taken until this year to finally find something that does this, and does this really well.

Step forward Plan UK’s Tell your story campaign and take a bow. I came across the story via the excellent sofii website, a site anyone involved in fundraising should regularly check out. As with any rich personalised experience based on Facebook data, like Intel’s brilliant museum of me, you only really get a sense of what it’s like by trying the site yourself so I’m not going to explain how it works or what it does. Showing my Facebook friends, photos and data won’t have the same effect as seeing your own connections show up – that’s the point and the power of it. Still, here’s a video to give you a broad idea:

And at the risk of navel-gazing, I would like to quote my post from 2 1/2 years ago, as I think they’ve nailed exactly what I thought would be possible and powerful:

…it’s this personalisation that’s the point I want to make. We all know from DM experience that the more personal a campaign, the better the response rate. And for many people, data doesn’t get much more personal than what they share with their friends on Facebook…

Imagine how you could use that data in a campaign. How could you use someone’s personal photos and make it relevant to your charity’s goals or a story for a new campaign? Or, once someone is donating to you online, could you ask them to connect with Facebook so you could create a personalised thank-you video, including their name and address, showing how their donation has helped?

There is great scope for using this feature to create a rich, interactive experience and greater personalisation. The beauty is that you don’t have to ask people to enter any details, they just log in to Facebook, and you use things they’ve already shared.

Having spent the last year doing a lot of work on various Facebook integrations, I know that the technical effort required to get the data they’re using from Facebook isn’t actually that hard, but they are using it in a very clever way. And as with all these things, it’s the story not the tech that’s most interesting, and how they have used tech to tell such a compelling story is very impressive. I’ve talked a lot about digital storytelling in the past, and this is probably the best of the bunch I’ve seen thus far.

I recommend you head over to Sofii’s exhibit to read all the details and background to the campaign and doff your hat in acknowledgement of some great work. I look forward to reading the follow-up and seeing how the campaign went.

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