Helping #VaccinesWork: a Twiplomatic approach

By Emily Loud and Isaac Griberg, social media managers at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Take a good look at Twiplomacy’s report this year and you might see a new name among the World Economic Forum, United Nations agencies and the big brands of the non-profit world. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance makes an appearance in the Twitter and LinkedIn rankings, and he’s not there by accident.

Anyone who’s followed vaccine related issues in recent years will know just how fierce social media exchanges about immunisation can be, thanks to small but vocal minority who cast doubt on the fact that #vaccineswork. There’s no straightforward answer to how (or whether) to deal with this group in real life, let alone on social media. But research shows that storytelling and personal engagement can be a crucial part in helping people filter, understand and remember information. That’s why empowering our Gavi colleagues to use their voices and experience on social media has become an important focus for our social strategy.

In particular, supporting Seth, our social savvy CEO, to be active and engage in important conversations across Twitter and LinkedIn has proved both exciting and powerful. Between sharing thoughts, reaching out to influencers, and making the most of high-level events, his diverse social media activities have piqued popular interest and even helped information on vaccine preventable diseases go viral. Seth’s investment in social is helping others within our organisation to recognise the value of social media as a means to engage with not just family friends, but also with broader professional communities. This has also enabled us to enlist the social support of other important voices, including our Board Chair Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose wealth of experience and substantial following bring much to the online vaccination conversation.

Hear how Seth explains his own interests in social media from our short interview:

#VaccinesWork: Gavi's Seth Berkley talks social media from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on Vimeo.

Besides establishing social media guidelines and providing training, we’re meeting this increasing demand with curated spaces where colleagues without an existing social media presence can tap into an existing platform to share their stories. Examples of such spaces include @Vaccines, a Twitter account rotated between vaccine champions within our Alliance, and Vaccines Work, a collaborative blog building a repository of personal and partner stories.

Moving beyond platforms and technology, we have much to learn about the psychology of vaccine hesitancy and the role of social media engagement. But for now, we can appreciate the power of stories and personal interaction to bring people together, as well as the positive brand impact that employee advocacy can have. That means we’ll be continuing to work hard to take a Twiplomatic approach to social media and to support social enthusiasts across our organisation to spread the word that #vaccineswork.