Social media and blood donor behavior: new ways of effective communication

Demographic changes, increasing longevity, and decreasing donor numbers put the blood supply under pressure. Hence, effective recruitment and retention is of utmost importance to safeguard donor availability. Previous research identified determinants of blood donor behavior (e.g., donation site experience, anticipated regret for not donating), mostly by using survey data. During the last decade, social media became one of the most popular platforms for expressing opinions and experiences and communicating with other users. Social media are now used by a myriad of individuals and organizations for interpersonal and organizational communication, often leading to more engaged ‘consumers’. Social media can act both as a source of information (e.g., about the experiences of blood donors), as a means of communication about blood donation, by various actors, (e.g., donors, blood banks and the general public), but also as a means to commit people to organizations or causes. For example, social media can play a crucial role in communicating urgent needs for blood products and the importance of blood donation in general. The Sanquin Facebook page has over 58.000 followers—a reach of over 16% among blood donors (assuming most Facebook friends are donors), and social media have become the most vital part of Sanquin’s donor recruitment and retention campaigns. These developments in combination with decreasing donor numbers, warrant a structural analysis of existing social media data and exploring and testing the possibilities to specifically use social media for tailored blood donor recruitment and retention. Blood banks can then use social media to create a committed and loyal online donor community by using social media management strategies.

The main aim the project is to deploy social media data to derive information about donor experiences and behavior and establish a successful social media strategy for blood centers. Three objectives serve to guide the research aim:

1) Mapping who (actors) communicates what, when and how about blood donation on social media platforms;

2) Linking this information to actual donor behavior;

3) Developing a strategy to influence donor behavior through communication via social media.

If you have any questions about this project, contact Steven Ramondt!