the words 'World Braille Day' also in braille

Meaningful social media campaigns: Braille Name Generator

ACEVO’s communications officer Heloisa Righetto talks to Nathan Murray, social media manager at RNIB, about the role of social media in awareness-raising campaigns.

In the first few days of January, I wrote two blogs (here and here) about using social media in a meaningful way. Therefore I was thrilled to see a tangible example happening at around the same time: on 4 January, World Braille Day, the RNIB took to Twitter and Instagram and launched the Braille Name Generator. The campaign was a success, so I asked RNIB’s social media manager Nathan Murray to share the process behind it and what he’s learned from the experience.

How did the idea for the Braille Name Generator come about?

This January marked the 210th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, the man who invented the tactile code which enables millions of blind and partially sighted people to read by touch. Each year, people and organisations across the world celebrate braille on World Braille Day (4th January).  The day provides a platform to raise awareness of the tactile code and to educate audiences on how it’s used.

We knew that it was important to mark World Braille Day in a meaningful way and social media data from previous years showed us that there was a solid level of engagement on World Braille Day. In the past, we’ve shared content about braille and educated people on the ways it could be used. However, this year we wanted to really harness this engagement and involve more of our social media audiences with our content.

Shortly before Christmas, we ran a short creative brainstorm internally to come up with ideas to get people talking. At RNIB, one of our core values is to be creative in finding ways to move forward. It’s great that our chief executive and senior leadership team empower teams with the freedom and time to try doing things a bit differently.

From the brainstorm, the Braille Name Generator was born!

How the generator works:

  1. RNIB posts about the Braille Name Generator on Twitter and Instagram
  2. People reply with their name
  3. The generator works its magic, producing a graphic which shows a visual representation of the person’s name written in braille.
  4. The braille graphic is shared with the person who requested it – on Twitter as a reply and on Instagram as a direct message.

How did you keep it accessible?

As an organisation, it’s incredibly important that everything we do is as accessible as possible. One way we did this was providing written image descriptions for all graphics which were produced. This meant that people who use screen reading technology would be able to interpret the graphics.

We were also really keen to ensure that people were reminded that the graphic was just a visual representation and that braille is read by touch. As one user tweeted “the beauty of it is in the feel of it.”

How was the response?

There is always some nervousness around trying new ideas and we were genuinely unsure of the response we’d received from the Braille Name Generator. Fortunately, it was an instant success.

Within minutes of posting on Twitter and Instagram, we were receiving name submissions. Brands like CBeebies, Liverpool F.C. and JustGiving got involved, submitting their names to be transcribed. The demand was much greater than we had anticipated and if we do it again, we’d look to bring in extra resources.

Across both platforms, we successfully transcribed approximately 500 names through our Braille Name Generator. Our post was one of the most engaging pieces of content globally relating to World Braille Day and traffic to our donation page increased by 188%.


What’s next?

We’re really keen to build on the success of our Braille Name Generator; we are exploring ways to use it at other times and looking at how we can extend the reach of the generator to other digital channels. It’s important to us, that the next time we launch the generator we’ve ironed out any technical issues with the process so we can ensure we’re able to transcribe everyone’s name into braille.

Overall, it’s been really reassuring that as technology develops and the world changes, there is still an interest and basic understanding of braille amongst our online audiences. As one of the leading sight loss charities in the UK, RNIB will continue to strive to keep braille alive.

If you know other campaigns that used social media in a meaningful way, please leave a comment or tweet us

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