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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

The power of social media

by Rachael White

On World Social Media Day, our Digital Marketing Manager Rachael White (pictured with the medal the charity received for raising more than £500,000 on Facebook) shares why social media is valuable to Brain Tumour Research and how the charity uses these online platforms to connect with its supporters and raise vital funds.

Social media can divide opinion, but whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no denying the impact it can have. As Digital Marketing Manager, I am surrounded by social media and I know the value it holds to the charity and our supporters.

Every day we receive hundreds of comments on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We hear from supporters sharing their stories or connections to brain tumours, reaching out to one another or asking questions about the work that we do. Because social media is essentially live, we can respond within minutes and open up that conversation, engaging with those in our community who want to interact with us and then go on to do something for us like fundraising, campaigning or donating to help our cause.

We can reach our supporters with all the latest news from the charity, whether that’s a ground-breaking discovery from one of our Centres of Excellence, updates from the campaigning world, or the launch of a new fundraising challenge.

Perhaps most importantly, we can use social media to recognise and thank those people who support us. Fundraising, volunteering, campaigning – whatever that support may look like, we can celebrate it on our online platforms. We wouldn’t be able to continue our vital work without our supporters and social media can also be a way of giving back to them.

One of the things that this space is great for is raising awareness.

Raising awareness is key if we are to find a cure for brain tumours and the stories that we share across our platforms serve as a powerful reminder of how devastating and indiscriminate this disease is. When we share individual stories, we receive comments which encompass a whole range of emotions, from hopefulness in response to stories of people who have survived their diagnosis to hopelessness and sadness at those heart-breaking stories of loss and tragedy, and anger at the cruel nature of the disease.

Those comments remind us just how vital it is that we find a cure. They remind us that those in the brain tumour community know all-too-well the devastation this disease can cause. And they remind us that people must be made aware of the impact of a brain tumour diagnosis to be inspired to support our cause.

We know that a lot of our supporters find comfort on social media too. There is a real brain tumour community online and although many of those people may never have met one another, they are a real support network to each other. It’s really quite inspiring.

Over the past year-and-a-half, we’ve built communities of tens of thousands of people across the UK and beyond with the introduction of our Facebook Challenges. In 2021, in the midst of the pandemic and with the cancellation or postponement of mass participation and in-person events, we needed to react quickly to recoup the income we stood to lose. So, we launched our first ever Facebook Challenge, 10,000 Steps a Day in February.

The challenge was unlike anything we’d done before and it definitely felt like we were entering uncharted territory. We were excited to see how people would respond, but as the registrations came rolling in, we were absolutely blown away.

The first 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge raised more than £900,000 to become our largest ever single fundraising campaign. It was an extraordinary feat and set the ball rolling on a series of Facebook Challenges – Jog 26.2 Miles in May, Cycle 274 Miles in August and 100 Star Jumps a Day in November – which combined have raised more than £2 million to date.

It’s thanks in no small part to these challenges that we’ve been able to grow our Digital Marketing team. We now have a Digital Engagement Team who are on hand day and night during these challenges, responding to our supporters to motivate and encourage them both for the challenge and with their fundraising, and answer any questions they may have. This means we can respond quicker, engage more and give our supporters the best experience possible.

We’ve also recruited our first in-house videographer who is helping us to produce more visual content to increase engagement and awareness. And we have an excellent team of digital volunteers who support the charity from the comfort of their own home.

Social media is constantly evolving and we have to be quick to adapt and innovate. If there’s one thing I’m certain of, though, it’s that social media is here to stay and the possibilities are endless.

It’s an exciting world to work in and one which I believe is vital in helping us support and celebrate those people who are steadfast alongside our cause in wanting to find a cure for brain tumours.

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