The British Red Cross is there for people in a crisis, whoever and wherever they are – that includes all age groups. Once the sheer scale and impact of the global pandemic became clearer, we knew young people’s mental health would be affected – for example, feeling alarmed or unsure of how to cope with living through such a huge global change. It became more vital than ever for us to reach them in innovative ways.
When we first joined TikTok for World First Aid Day 2019 as a platform taster, we noticed comments from people asking ‘why is the British Red Cross on here?’ and soon realised the audience (of which 69% are 13-24 years old) didn’t know much about the charity and what we do. This presented a key opportunity to reach new audiences who were not engaging with us on other channels about our vital work. As a result, we planned to use TikTok as a key communications tool and lead as one of the first UK-based charities to do so.
In our 150th year, one of our objectives is to create and retain a new, younger generation of Red Cross supporters. To do this, we needed to go where they go. TikTok is the fastest growing app in 2020, with over 2 billion downloads and a predominately young audience, so we decided we needed to utilise the platform as a way of engaging, educating and becoming more relevant with this age group.
From being the first charity in the UK to fundraise on the platform to creating our own challenge in partnership with the award-winning Team GB, our time on TikTok has been an exciting and unique journey.
In February, we supported TikTok’s coronavirus campaign by sharing simple and informative content on our channel. They saw us as a trusted, active organisation on the app and a key figure in emergency and disaster response. We started with myth-busting and providing reliable advice, with low-budget videos with our team around handwashing, how to greet others and credible sites to check for the latest information on the virus.
Our educational content, delivering information in fun and unexpected ways, proved very popular – with our first coronavirus myth-busting video clocking up over 15 million views. Though it was a challenge to explore such a serious topic creatively and in a fun way, we added trending songs, special effects and researched what top content creators were doing to overcome this and make sure our content resonated with the audiences appropriately.
In April, we launched a partnership with Team GB. After the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were officially postponed, we immediately saw the potential for people to share the Olympic spirit during lockdown. We created the #IsolationGames challenge with TikTok. Users challenged Team GB athletes by recreating Olympic sporting events in their own homes, as creatively or comically as possible. GQ Magazine even included the campaign in their ‘10 coolest things to do from home!’
By May, we were one of only two charities in the UK raising funds through TikTok. The platform launched a brand new donate sticker feature, allowing people to donate to a charity directly from the platform with each donation matched by TikTok. This was a milestone opportunity to lead the sector through a new method of fundraising.
We turned to our ambassador, Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs, to cast a spell and introduce the feature in our launch video. The donation sticker could be used on videos and in LIVEs (TikTok’s livestream format). We experimented to test which of these mediums would raise more money and quickly learnt that livestreams worked best for encouraging donations, while videos allowed us to show people the impact of their donations.
Our first LIVE, with Dr Radha Modgil, was a session called ‘What makes your mental & emotional wellbeing TikTok? Getting through lockdown’. We did a promotional video for the event, asking people to let us know what they wanted to hear about from Dr Radha. This way we could ensure the livestream would deliver the content the audiences needed.
Over the campaign period, there were over 13 LIVEs in support of British Red Cross from celebrities and creators, including Gordon Ramsay (who had an incredible 95,000 viewers!) , Rita Ora and Lewis Capaldi. Popular TikTok content creators like the Neffati Brothers, Matthew and Ryan, Saffron Barker and Dr Julie Smith also supported us.
We are pushing the boundaries on creativity and innovation across the charity sector, while showcasing what we stand for. The #IsolationGames became a nationwide hit with 446 million hashtag views, 270,000 videos published, one million shares and over 23 million likes. We’ve also maximised our relationships with a range of celebrities and influencers that we wouldn’t be able to work with on other channels – Jason’s stream alone helped us gain 2500 extra followers!
We have grown our supporter base, reaching more people and new, younger audiences on this new digital channel. Within week one, we had racked up 146 million views and jumped from 4,000 followers to over 300k after just five short videos. We continue to grow with over 380k followers on the platform and 6.2million ‘likes’ to date. Our TikTok buzz even spilled over onto our other channels, with our ‘sticker’ campaign tweets earning 2.8M impressions and 8.6M audience impressions.
The fundraising results speak for themselves – we raised over £90,000 in just four weeks through our donate sticker campaign. We have successfully unlocked the fundraising potential of this new platform to support some of the most vulnerable people in the UK during the pandemic.
Through TikTok, we have not only reached new audiences, but we’ve also become TikTok charity trailblazers – and we’re only just getting started…