#MSin5words: charity campaign offers intimate glimpse of life with condition

Hashtag-2Written By: Anna Isaac  28/8/15

The hashtag has been a huge success on Twitter, with many people and organisations using it to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis.

What’s it all about?

It’s a hashtag set up by the Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society), a charity that supports some 100,000 people in the UK who live with the condition. The social media campaign uses #MSin5words to encourage people to tweet about their day-to-day experience of MS, a condition that attacks the nervous system and can cause sight loss, fatigue and acute disability.

How did it all start?

The campaign was the brainchild of the charity’s social media and communities co-ordinator, Stewart Cumiskey . He explains that while “there was no big plan”, he was inspired by Twitter’s pop-up trending topics such as#5WordsToRuinADate, #ScaryStoriesIn5Words and #WorstBossIn5Words. When Cuminskey launched the campaign in January this year, his first tweet focused on the charity’s aim to find a cure.

What’s different about this one?

While the MS Society set the ball rolling and continues to tweet using the hashtag, the campaign is open to the entire MS community and other organisations.

What do other charities and groups have to say?

Richard Lane, head of campaigns at disability charity Scope, says: “#MSin5Words is a great campaign because it allows disabled people and their families to [tell] their own stories free from stereotypes and stigma.”

George Pepper, co-founder of charity ShiftMS, says he likes its positivity: “Too often the illness comes first, but #MSin5words shows the reality of living with MS. It’s not about the obstacles that are thrown at you, but how you respond.

“The importance for those with long-term conditions to learn from each other and realise they are not alone can not be overstated and this campaign is a creative and accessible way to initiate peer support.”

What do we like about it?

“It wasn’t an officially sanctioned campaign. I went a bit rogue …” says Cumiskey. Well, rogues are notoriously loveable. He even “panicked slightly” when it started getting picked up as it hadn’t been signed off by anyone.

We like that it shows that when social media teams are given the freedom to experiment, and at times fail, they can do great things.

It also shows an intimate side to the disease. MS is, like many conditions, different for everyone who has it, so it seems fitting that this campaign allows people to express it in their own way.

What’s next?

Cumiskey isn’t sure as the campaign’s success had been unexpected. Possibilities include putting a book together showcasing some of the brilliant tweets.

A nugget of wisdom

“I see social media as like a wild horse,” says Cuminskey. “You can put a saddle on it. Name it. Feed it. Coax it. But it’s not your horse. It may bite you; run off in a direction you didn’t intend – or just stand there, motionless, quietly defecating.”

We say: Fortune favours the brave social media manager. Chief executives take note.

Source: The Guardian



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