13/06/2016 06:02 BST | Updated 10/06/2017 06:12 BST

Data Driven Storytelling Is the New Normal


The internet was set ablaze the past few weeks, by Candace Payne - now dubbed the 'Chewbacca Mum', for sitting in her car and trying out the talking Chewbacca mask she had just bought. To this day, she is the biggest star on the internet. The emotional connection she built with the world wide web is just a small indicator of the power of storytelling.

Let's face it, storytelling isn't just an important part of the social experience; it's everything.

At NHS Blood and Transplant, we take pride in playing our part to make the most of absolutely every donation - from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells, but how do we build a connection and get people to notice and most importantly take action? We break down the data that matters and use it in a way that is truly meaningful on social media. The right data sets can open doors to insights on new trends and identify areas for improvement.

I know. It sounds complex and can be quite a brain drain, but when done correctly it's worth the headache. With the use of Brandwatch and native social analytics tools we break down the key interests, dislikes and sentiment of our users. With these tools, however, the focus is on data exploration, so we took the information for a test run and launched our first ever social media data driven Valentine's Day campaign. Working with Aesop we developed the campaign 'Better Left Unsaid'

The videos depicted a number of couples at a restaurant on Valentine's Day and features a montage of humorous and at times inappropriate topics on romantic dinner dates--from fancying the waitress to underwear chafing (and even worse). The key message that while there are some conversations that should be avoided on the most romantic day of the year, one conversation could potentially save lives - sharing your organ donation decision. The video drove significant engagement and reach ultimately leading to new registrations.

While the use of data is great - for storytelling to truly to be effective, there must be a human approach. The data facilitates and accelerates the process but it is not the key to the power of storytelling. We know that our audience loves a good laugh, but we also know that we've all had our fair share of crappy dates and when you combine the two you reach this sort of social euphoria. The emotional investment that takes place, puts us in a positon to continue to save lives, it removes the corporate barrier and makes it easier for individuals to think: "What if my child needed a blood transfusion?" or "What if my mum needed a life-saving organ?" We can no longer just push our messages, we need to pull people in with engaging, useful content.

"Transfusion number 51. Thumbs up to all the donors." #savelives #giveblood

A photo posted by NHS Give Blood (@givebloodnhs) on

Social media and technology allow us to document our lives at an amazing pace. The use of the two together can help us to save lives and drive behaviour change.

We know that data is powerful - with a good story, it's unforgettable.

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