A Social Media Ovation

A recent Twitter appeal for more black people to donate blood saw our social media team receive universal praise for their responses to racism online.

The original tweet read: “So, people keep asking – why do we need more black blood donors? Isn’t everyone’s blood the same? You’re racist! ISSA THREAD:”

The thread, which was put together by Melissa Thermidor, Social Media Manager and Stephen Bailey, Corporate Communications Manager, then went on to break down blood groups, the need for black blood donors and an explanation of what sickle disease is and how it affects people. Each tweet fell within Twitter’s previous 140 character count with an animated image (GIF) to illustrate the points made.

We need 40,000 more black donors as they are more likely to have the blood type needed to treat the increasing number of patients suffering from Sickle Cell Disease. Currently we have around 10,000 black donors. Social media is becoming a key way to communicate our messages and encourage people to become blood donors.

This thread alone resulted in 12,000 retweets and 20,000 likes with a range of replies including MOBOs response – “This thread is everything” – which itself got 265 retweets and 2000 likes. The tweet was also retweeted by JK Rowling (12,000 retweets) and Jesse Williams (12,000 retweets) and was trending in both the UK and the US on 7 November.

In response to another appeal for more black people to donate blood, one individual replied: “If we deport all blacks, this will stop being an issue.”

@GiveBloodNHS responded to that tweet with: “Or we could just deport you.”

The tweet was featured on timelines and search results over three million times on Twitter and led to 500 new followers of our @GiveBlood NHS twitter account thanks to our emphatic put-down of this racist comment.

The average proportion of new black donors is around 2% but figures after that tweet increased by two to three times.

“We have seen larger numbers of people registering to become donors on the back of social media activity before,” explained Melissa, “but this ranks in the top 25%.”

“Our insights have continuously shown that black donors have a mistrust of the NHS. The response from newly registered donors was extremely positive and heartfelt, with many of them really feeling supported and backed by us and the amazing work we all do.

“It can be quite difficult managing a public-facing communication platform and taking such a bold position but, in all fairness, we’re expected to exude certain values that mirror those of the organisation’s core values: why should this be limited to internal positioning?

“We should be expected to display those values everywhere – taking a controversial stand becomes a public commitment to better behaviour.

“If you’re not registered to give blood, hop to it!”

As well as being interviewed by numerous media outlets about the incredible online response, Melissa was also recognised at the National Awards Ceremony for her work by winning the first-ever ‘Lawful Audacity’ award. This was in recognition of her work building strong online communities supporting blood and organ donation, as well as taking risks and pushing boundaries.

This feature was taken from the December / January issue of Connect magazine available now in all centres!

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