When Kate Robertson’s fiancée, Mike, developed leukaemia, she built the hashtag campaign #Shake4Mike – eventually finding Mike a donor and convincing thousands to become stem-cell donors

Mike Brandon’s leukaemia meant that, after his chemotherapy, he would require a donor to survive, but none of his close relations and friends were viable. In response, Kate and the specialist blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan teamed up to create a social media campaign to help raise awareness and help Mike to find a donor.

Now, Mike has a donor match and Anthony Nolan has experienced a dramatic growth in the number of people singing up to their stem-cell donor registry.

How It Worked

In early May, with less than sixty days until Mike would require a donor after his treatment, Kate set up profiles for the campaign on Facebook.com and Twitter.com. On 2 May, Kate posted the inaugural tweet, while launching the hashtag.

On Facebook, on May 4 Kate uploaded her first shaky selfie, and nominated those who would be the next torch-bearers.

As the campaign page on Facebook described: ‘register, shake, share, nominate’ – that is, if you get a nomination, or just feel like it, you should head to www.anthonynolan.org/shake4mike and register, then take a shaky selfie, post it on social media and nominate your friends.

Hereafter, the Facebook page became a hub for related activity, where Kate would share statuses which were part of the campaign and post news stories.

What Happened Next

In the next week, important social media stars like Stephen Fry climbed on board, while national news sites like telegraph.com covered the story.

Sally Dynevor, actor for the popular British soap opera Coronation Street, also tweeted and nominated. Her getting the hashtag wrong might even have gained some extra attention from the people who use the #shake tag to share the latest milkshakes.


On May 23, Kate posted her ‘after’ shaky selfie on the Shake4Mike Facebook page, celebrating the fact that Anthony Nolan had found a donor for Mike.

According to bbc.co.uk, Anthony Nolan experienced a huge increase in people signing up to their donor registry during the period. More than 7,000 sent samples to the charity between 4 and 12 May, compared to the 939 people who did so during the same period last year. This accounts for a 650 percent increase of those who are willing to provide help to people in a situation like Mike’s.

Why Did It Work?

Combining a pressing need with something so light-hearted as a ‘shaky selfie’ was an ingenious move for helping the campaign to achieve its reach. Taking and sharing selies is definitely in the zietgeist, so it makes sense to ask people to do more of what they enjoy. The key to viral content, of course, is to encourage sharing, somehow – asking people to nominate their friends to take a their own shaky selfie is a frank and guaranteed way to do so.

Kate and the other people who contributed to the campaign were also willing to contact people directly, asking for their help, like Stephen Fry. Remember, if you want a re-tweet, just ask. Finally, of course, there is nothing like a snappy, original and recognisable hashtag through which to unify your efforts on Twitter and Facebook.



Overall, it seems that Kate, Anthony Nolan and #Shake4Mike have taught us a great deal about savvy social media and the power of a great story. With a simple and powerful message, determination and a couple of social accounts, it is now possible to reach thousands of people and to enlist them to help a good cause.

Visit anthonynolan.org for more information, or your local equivalent for those outside the United Kingdom.

Please tell us about the great social campaigns that you have seen in the comments.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer social media management services to build a vibrant audience for your brand across all media channels. Learn more about social media and PR here.

Author Oliver Cox

Having originally joined the company as a writer in 2013, Oliver currently works as a full-time member of L&T's sales team to prospect, nurture and help close sales leads in the US and UK markets. Oliver is a graduate of the University of Liverpool and is a prolific musician and author.

More posts by Oliver Cox

Leave a Reply