Monday, February 20, 2012

Tweeting For Charity Needs to Change: Here's How

I recently made the following statement on Twitter:
Pet peeve: people holding charity donations hostage for RTs and Likes. People won't get help if you don't get followers? #unkewl
And had an interesting exchange with @AJEbsary in which we considered how charitable tweeting could be changed to better help the charities themselves.

See, these days, companies and celebrities will tweet messages that say, if you follow them or like their Facebook accounts, they will make charitable donations of some sort: $5 for every like! A cup of rice for every RT! I think that this approach truly sucks.

Sucks.

I think it's downright disgusting that they hold their charitable donations hostage for followers and likes. It definitely goes against the spirit of charity, doesn't it? Why can't they just donate without resorting to tricks and bribes? Why should help for the needy and helpless be subject to gamification and depend on the ability of these organizations to promote themselves, over these causes???

How to Change the Game

During the Haiti and Japan earthquakes, celebrities took to Twitter to promote the Red Cross' donations-by-texting, and it spread like wildfire. But there are thousands of charities that need help every day. Some are small local hospices or charitable organizations who don't have the funds to broadly market themselves. Some are global charities who help people all over the world. And what they need is exposure to spread their messages and, ultimately, obtain support so they can help those who need it the most.

I want to change the game, to make it fair to those who need the help. And here's what I propose: Instead of corporations begging for tweets and RTs and Likes, they could work with celebrities or even use their own audience base and hand over their own accounts to these charities to help their messages reach the broadest possible audiences.
I asked: @AJEbsary How kewl would it be for big names like @Scobleizer @aplusk @mitchjoel @unmarketing to give their accts to a charity for a day
Could you imagine if these popular Tweeps handed over their accounts so that a charity could reach out to their tens of thousands, even millions of followers for a period of time? How much awareness (and hopefully, funds) they could raise?

I've done pro bono work with a very small local charity that does missions in Haiti and Kenya. They do truly inspired work. They raise funds at a single annual fundraiser. But oh, if they could capture the interest of a broad audience. If someone with significant online power could talk about them for a day. And if it didn't have to cost them a dime. Just a celebrity who believes in their cause enough to hand over their followers and let tell let them tell their story. The potential is amazing.

Gaming the new game

Is it too much? Should people be shilling causes on Twitter? Why not? We've seen much worse: sponsored chats hosted by product companies with obnoxious hashtags like #LoveProductName, sponsored Tweets and paid-for follower suggestions. To me, this would make a much better use of the active Twitter audience, with benefits to all involved.

Granted, it might only be a matter of seconds time before some organization games this as well and pays the celebrity to talk about the charity on behalf of the company: "@celebutante tweets @charity, brought to you by @multinational"... ok, so my idea's not perfect. But there's potential there.

What do you think? Would it work? Would you listen?

2 comments:

Virginia said...

Interesting idea. I'm sure there are celebrity Tweeters who would participate. I'm wondering what you think about this new site? http://chirpify.com/

Unknown said...

Interesting premise and one that builds and leverages the audience of those with 'bigger and deeper' reach.

What I particularly like about the idea is that it also incorporates trust and most likely builds upon an exisiting relationship.

In addition - the ability to target a specific area of interest/focus, through the use of a 'celebrity account', would likely yield larger and more visimble impact and results.