Twitter is more than just a social networking tool. In the right hands, it can also be used for charitable purposes, making Twitter a great resource for people and companies that want to make a name for themselves by doing good. Here are a few examples of the most notable ways in which Twitter has been used to change lives for the better.
The minds behind Twestival describe it as “the largest global grassroots social media fundraising initiative to date, raising $1.2 million within 14 months for 137 nonprofits. All local events are organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of all ticket sales and donations go direct to projects.”
Basically, Twestival is a global community of Twitter users committed to doing good in their local communities. The next events will take place in March of this year, and are expected to do even better than the previous events.
For a list of events by continent, click here.
In the words of Mashable: “Good cause + Celebs + Self promotion = Everyone wins.”
Last September, the TwitChange auctions were launched. In essence, bidders were trying to win the opportunity to have a celebrity follow them, retweet them, or @mention them. Over $500,000 was raised, and over 30 million people visited the TwitChange site to bid on nearly 200 celebs. The proceeds went to aHomeInHaiti.org to fund the creation of a center to care for cerebral palsy, severe autism and other disabilities.
The next TwitChange auction is being held on January 29th, and will benefit Operation Once in a Lifetime, an organization that supports members of the U.S. Armed Services and their families.
Twitter is such a major part of the social media landscape that NOT using the service can make just as much of an impact as using it regularly.
In late 2010, a large number of A-list celebs like Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, and Elijah Wood committed to stop updating their Twitter feeds and Facebook pages until $1 million had been raised for Alicia Keys’ AIDS charity, Keep a Child Alive.
Known as the Digital Life Sacrifice campaign, fans were told that if they wanted to “resurrect” their favorite celeb’s online activities, they had to text the first name of the celebrity they are mourning to 90999 to donate $10 to the cause.
Last January, for one day only, comedian Michael Ian Black “roasted” any of his followers who gave $5 to the disability services charity ”Sunrise Community”.
Again, Mashable explained the reasoning in a nutshell: “It’s self-promotion with charity in mind, and it should help [those who donate] get noticed and help Black add to his funds raised.”
There’s no word yet on when or if Black will repeat the stunt, but I hope that he and other comedians will do something similar again in the future.
There are plenty of other celebs (like Kristen Bell and Alyssa Milano) who routinely leverage their massive Twitter following to draw attention to charitable causes, and a quick search should yield plenty of celebrities and charitable organizations that are worth following on Twitter.
Companies big and small should take note of this trend, which looks like it will continue going strong this year. By showing that they are committed to doing good through social media channels, a company can improve their brand image and cultivate brand loyalists.
The long and short of it is this: Twitter is only going to get bigger in 2011, and companies who want to make a foray into social media would be well-served to give serious thought to their Twitter presence, as well as charitable social media campaigns.