Giving 1 Million Followers a Purpose
By now, most of you have heard about the original @Drew auctioning off his Twitter Handle to benefit the Live Strong Foundation. I’m sure you’ve also heard about & Drew Carey and his series of increasingly generous bids – now potentially reaching $1,000,000 – should Mr. Carey’s Current Account Accrue a total of 1,000,000 Followers – Effectively Attributing a $1 Value to each person.
I’m not breaking any news here – but I would like to make a comparison, even if it’s an obvious one. If you recall, it wasn’t too long ago that Ashton Kutcher, Oprah, and a slew of other celebrities pathetically riding their diamond studded coattails, joined the ranks of Twitter Personas, despite some vehement protesting that they do (and still do) nothing to add value to the community. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t celebrities who DO engage with their followers, ala The New York Jets, Dave Matthews, Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon…and others
However, it takes but a quick look at Mr. Demi Moore Willis’ recent posts to see he’s just broadcasting, adding little to no value, using twitter no differently than he would any other medium.
This is also not to say that he’s using twitter any differently than 90% of the rest of the popular platform’s patrons. However, he made a point to garner followers and attention, ‘racing’ CNN to reach 1 million and make the history books – and has since done absolutely nothing with that accomplishment, or his fan/follower base. All that influence – just going to waste.
Meanwhile – Drew Carey’s going to get a million followers (probably, maybe?), and even if he can’t interact with each and every single one – he’s still engaging, adding value to the community by validating their existence, giving them a reason to follow him other than to voyeur on mundane celebrity activity – he’s giving them VALUE – $1 to be exact. Thus enabling every single one of his followers to contribute to a charitable cause just by lifting a finger and without even having to donate any money themselves.
And what does Mr. Carey get out of this? He certainly doesn’t need the additional attention any more than Kutcher, the guy hosts “The Price is Right.” Sure he gets some added PR and a bit of an ego boost – but it’s costing him up to a million dollars.
This whole situation begs us to compare the two and their respective endeavors to reach one million followers – Ashton’s was vain, self serving, and ultimately pointless. While Drew Carey’s is clearly altruistic, not only donating his own money for a good cause but also rallying the masses and facilitating their involvement in charity, in the simplest possible way, through both traditional and new media. I think we have a winner here.
This then begs another question – how will Mr. Carey’s actions impact nonprofits and charitable organizations in their use of social media? Initiatives designed to raise attention for a given cause can elevate a charity from relative obscurity to a zeitgeist phenom with people dedicating their Facebook statii to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, en masse, or Greening their twitter profile picture to reflect the political situation in Iran.
Further, Microdonation campaigns have used the Twitter ripple effect and apps like Facebook causes to refocus attention from low quantity, high volume donations from philanthropic giants to relying, instead, on individuals, average Joes & Janes, donating in small increments but also in great magnitudes.
Now a new method makes the foray into the fray – something of a spin on celebrity endorsements and PSAs with a bit of 90’s domain squatting thrown into the mix, albeit with a more benevolent agenda in mind.
Back on the Ides of April ’09, CNN set what could have been a terrible precedent when they purchased the CNNBRK account, potentially opening the doors for malicious squatters to register for brands’ preferred social media profiles and hold them for ransom. [Note - @cnnbrk has been ridiculously inactive of late – wonder if CNN is regretting that decision]
Personally, I’m curious to see if Mr. Carey’s Actions will catch on – is auctioning off popular twitter accounts a viable means of raising money or is this a one-time deal?
It also calls into question the role of celebrities on Twitter – how should they be using twitter? If they can accrue a vast number of followers with relative ease (or $) do they have a responsibility to activate those followers?