Save the Children

How Save the Children used social media to campaign for more vaccines


By The Drum Team, Editorial

December 28, 2011 | 6 min read

This case study outlines how Save the Children UK used social media to mobilise and grow the charity’s online community to effectively campaign for global funding for vaccines.

Executive SummaryThe campaign #Pass it on achieved a 27 million reach on Twitter, over 200,000 YouTube views, mobilised hundreds of bloggers and their children to blog in support, attracted celebrity support, and led to meetings with Andrew Mitchell, International Secretary of State for Development and Bill Gates.World leaders had four hours to save four million children’s lives at the global vaccination summit hosted by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) and David Cameron in London on June 13 2011.Social media consultant Liz Scarff was tasked with creating a project that would create unprecedented noise online around the importance of and lack of funding for vaccines. The idea was to put immense pressure on David Cameron so the UK pledged enough money, and to ensure that he also passed the message onto other world leaders.#Passiton was created – a project designed to create a groundswell of interest using social media with a story strong enough story to generate both regional and national print and broadcast media coverage.Three of the UK's most high-profile blogging and vlogging mums were taken from the UK to follow the journey of a vaccine (on Twitter @Mr Vaccine) in Mozambique. They were: blogger Christine Mosler, political blogger Tracey Cheetham and YouTuber Lindsay Atkin.The journey started in the warehouse in the capital, Maputo. They then travelled to a district health clinic before jumping on the back of motorbikes with the healthworkers and heading for a rural clinic under a tree where it was given to a child by one of Save the Children’s roving health workers.The campaign achieved 27 million reach on Twitter, over 200,000 YouTube views, and hundreds of bloggers blogging both in the UK and internationally. Scores of school children also blogged up and down the UK. Celebrities including Stephen Fry, Jamie Oliver, Jon Snow, Christy Turlington and Mylene Klass tweeted their support.The bloggers/vloggers met both Bill Gates and Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International development, to talk about the project.The campaign also secured significant national and regional media coverage including Daybreak and the Politics Show.Another key element to the project was Save the Children's partnerships with GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Imunisation) The Gates Foundation and also DFID.The campaign achieved its goal, as $4.3 billion was pledged for vaccines by global leaders.Detail and strategy#Passiton demonstrated how telling stories in real time from the frontline can engage people using social media, starting a groundswell of interest that will then push the campaign out into national mainstream broadcast and print.The campaign not only gave a voice to the healthcare workers and mums in Mozambique, but also demonstrated the importance of vaccines and how they can help put an end to 8.1 million children dying every year from things like pneumonia and diarrhoea.Keeping vaccinations cold under the blistering Mozambique sun and delivering them to places accessible only by foot or motorbike are just some of the many challenges Save the Children's health workers face.Mums all over the world have hopes, fears and dreams for their children – so who better to tell the story? From three different niches: politics, parent blogging and YouTube, the campaign's bloggers/vlogger met mums, children and healthworkers and shared their stories and lives, minute by minute, with their community back in the UK.In the cloudRather than developing an expensive microsite and try to create a new audience/community, Save the Children let the project ‘live’ in existing social networks. This approach meant that the audience was immediately increased as the campaign was taken to the channel with an existing engaged audience.Who is @MrVaccine?Save the Children set up a Twitter feed called @MrVaccine. @MrVaccine was the ‘vaccine’ that the bloggers would see given to a child in rural outpost clinic (MrsVaccine had a few things to say about his trip).A storyline was designed for him and his journey, which ran in parallel to the bloggers journey.@MrVaccine also gave the campaign a fun ‘ask’ to celebrities and it was found that as a result they were very willing to tweet for the campaign, bringing exposure to the project.Tag teamIn addition to reporting live, the bloggers were all tasked with having their own ‘tag team’ back in the UK to pass on their stories/tweets/photos. These teams of pre-determined bloggers around the UK were challenged to write their own blog post in response and then #passiton to other bloggers to do the same.The concept, put simply, was to ‘pass it on’. Josie George and Maggy Woodley hosted a meme called This is me this is my future. coverage
  • ITV Yorkshire: x three pieces (before/during/after) for the news programme as well as two online video diaries whilst in the field
  • ITV West Country: two online video diaries whilst in the field with a news piece
  • BBC Points West: A piece for the regional news programme and package for Politics Show
  • Preview and follow up interviews with BBC Radios Sheffield, Somerset and Bristol, as well as commercial stations Hallam FM (and online), Viking FM and Heart West Country (and online)
  • Interviews for features in The Sheffield Star, South Yorkshire Times (and online), Barnsley Chronicle, Bath Chronicle, Somerset Standard, Somerset Life online, (video diary)
National Coverage
  • BBC 1 Breakfast: Save the Children calling for more money to be spent on vaccination: Interview with Red Ted Art’s Maggie Woodley and Save the Children CEO Justin Forsyth
  • ITV Daybreak: Interview with bloggers
  • ITV lunchtime news
  • Five Live Breakfast News
  • Telegraph: Charities’ Twitter campaign ‘to save 4million lives’ #4mlives
  • Over 200 blog posts by the community
  • Twitter reach: 27 million
  • Total YouTube views (to date): Over 200,000
Celebrity tweeters included Myleene Klass, Arlene Phillips, Stephen Fry and Jamie Oliver.This case study received a commendation in the category of best charity/NFP social media strategy at the Social Buzz Awards
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