"How we used social media to 'go viral' for Change Day "

About: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement

(as a staff member),

How can we harness social media to support the biggest improvement event to date in the NHS? That was a very interesting question. And given that the NHS is often cited as one of the largest organisations in the world, employing well over 1 million people and seeing 1 million patients every 36 hours, it was also quite a challenge.

Add into the mix that the question was asked with just 35 days to go before the event itself, and with online pledges standing at around 5,000 against a publicly stated target of 65,000 online pledges. The challenge then becomes unprecedented.

Fast forward 5 weeks to the day after the event itself:

• Online pledge total standing not at the 65,000 target but an unbelievable 182,000 pledges;

• 9 million Twitter impressions for a dedicated #nhschangeday hashtag;

• more than 1, 600 visits in 19 days to a new Change Day YouTube channel, with over 2,200 minutes of video footage watched;

• Extended audience for a Change Day Facebook Page built to over 33,000 with weekly total reach increasing three-fold;

• Newly established Change Day podcast channels receiving over 2,000 visits, not including downloads and subscriptions on a dedicated podcast channel on iTunes.

So how did we do it? We did it by doing what social media is all about – by going viral:

• We very quickly established a full suite of social media channels, capable of broadcasting and capturing video, audio and written materials;

• We created an easy ‘How to go viral for NHS Change Day’ video and got it to the NHS via traditional communications means, existing website and via our new channels;

• We ensure that all our outputs very quickly and explicitly encouraged participants to fulfil the core function of Change Day – ie visit our Pledge Page and make a pledge;

• Initially, we used our existing material captured through traditional means (eg short interviews with senior figures in the health world, green-screened and produced with high production values by a professional film company funded by ourselves);

• We added further high-end material at little additional cost by assuming an unofficial role as a central broadcast channel for equally well produced material from the front-line (eg a promotional video for Change Day by Leicester University Hospitals);

• We began to complement this high-production material – again at marginal cost - with 1-2 minute anecdotes, interviews and snippets captured on iPhone and capable of being turned around from capture to broadcast, via a MacBook and iMovie, in less than an hour – (eg a visit by our Lead Associate Jackie Lynton to Queen’s Hospital, Romford);

• We contacted communications and digital teams in other organisations whom we knew would be supporting Change Day, asking them to let us have their own material as it became available – so our own channels could be constantly growing and changing;

• The word began to spread amongst local NHS organisations and pledgees that their own produced material was available on the national site, and our social media communities began to grow as parents and colleagues began to come to our channels and comment on or ‘like’ specific items;

• We relentlessly and instantly cross-fertilised the full suite of our social media channels as new material appeared on one or the other (eg tweeting, Facebooking and podcasting audio and video material as it went onto YouTube);

• We spread confidence and a sense of momentum across the NHS by using our Twitter channel as a ‘breaking news’ service – with updates on the growing number of pledges and latest examples of pledges from the frontline;

• We took part in Tweetchats with NURchat, Nursing Times and Health Service journal – as well as webinars hosted by ourselves – in the final week before the event itself

In everything we did, we balanced a serious message and leadership and change from senior leaders and decision-makers, with anarchic and humorous examples of grassroots ideas and pledges from staff throughout the NHS – for example, a 90-second ‘Change Day’ jingle written and performed by staff from Harrogate Hospital, which has become by far the most popular item on our YouTube channel.

Of course, the beauty of social media is that it can explain and communicate through bite-size images and sounds, far more than can be done in words.


To see how we used social media to go viral for the NHS and deliver 182,000 pledges in 5 weeks...GO to our social media channels and become part of our growing movement for change!

Twitter - Follow us and tweet us on: #nhschangeday

Facebook - Like us on www. facebook. com/nhschangeDay

YouTube - See us at http: //www. youtube. com/user/NHSChangeDay

LinkedIn - Contact us at http: //www. linkedin. com/company/2783192

Podcasts - Listen to us on iTunes or at http: //nhschangeday. podbean. com

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