#DigitalDeath #FAIL

On December 1, BuyLife.org, an organization dedicated to the fight against AIDS worldwide launched a social media campaign entitled “DIGITAL DEATH.”  In short, the campaign gathered up some of the world’s most followed Twitter/Facebook using celebrities, and laid them to rest on Twitter and Facebook until $1 million dollars is raised.  (You can read the website’s entire explanation here.)
I think this a novel idea, but I just do not believe that BuyLife.org will be garnering the response it may have hoped for.  Here are some of my notes on the campaign:
  • Usually when I donate something to charity it is out of the goodness of my heart.  With the Buy Life campaign, it is a cross between fighting against AIDS, and buying to get our beloved celebrities back to tweeting about that turkey sandwich they’re eating.
  • When I think of the word “buy” I think of something that is palpable to me in the present.  Of course I understand the play on words and the concept to the campaign, but I just don’t feel the word “buy” invokes charitable feelings inside of me.
  • While these celebrities are absent from Twitter, how will more of their fans find out about their cause.  The assumption is that followers will flock to these celebrities Twitter pages.  In reality a large percentage of people are using third-party applications to tweet from, or tweet from their mobile phone.  Users on Twitter will not receive any notifications that these celebrities have “died” unless these celebrities actually tweet about it.
  • When you research statistics on the usage of Twitter in the US, you will find that the engagement by users is far lower than what you might assume.  A large percentage of Americans have heard of Twitter, but still far less are registered members, and even less are actively taking part in tweets.  (This is one of the many articles I referenced on this matter.)
  • Of the 18 celebrities that are taking part in this campaign, according to TweetLevel, a website that calculates users’ influence on Twitter, only 1 (Kim Kardashian AKA @kimkardashian) lands in the top 20.
  • What happens when these celebrities come back to life?  Of course the return is that the money spent is going to save lives.  However, the truth of the matter is that people will actually want something in return.  Think about charitable contests in school.  Will these celebrities be throwing us a gigantic pizza party sponsored by Pizza Hut?  Will they entertain us double of that which they did on Twitter by telling us where they are spending their loads amount of money?  It just doesn’t add up.
  • If I were to embark on a charitable campaign that played on the idea of consumerism, I would make sure that the return to the consumer is something that is palpable or can be available to them at some point.  A concert perhaps?  A special apperance?  A meet-and-greet?  (Margaret Lyons over at EW.com reminded me of a great example done by Stephen Colbert for Donors Choose.)