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What If The Stars “Die” And Nobody Cares?

03 December

On December 1, a slew of celebrities “died” online. Their digital identities at Twitter and Facebook were killed off in an attempt to raise $1 Million for Alicia Key’s BuyLife.org, in conjunction with her truly worthwhile charity, KeepAChildAlive.org. The charity provides “treatment love and support to families affected by HIV/AIDS.”

I commented on the drive for CNN on Showbiz Tonight (above) and said I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance in hell that they wouldn’t raise the money. But I was also asked a question that didn’t end up in the commentary. The question was whose followers do you think will have the greatest impact on the campaign. The answer to that question requires a bit more analysis.

Big Number Don’t Necessarily Translate To Big Engagement

My response was that big numbers don’t necessarily translate into big engagement. I cited the difference between Justin Timberlake and User as an example. Justin Timberlake has roughly 3.5 Million followers on Twitter, compared to Usher’s almost 1 Million. But when you look at their Klout numbers, Usher’s engagement with his smaller audience creates between 5 to 7 times the number of retweets and mentions as Timberlake’s engagement. The differences between their Facebook fan pages is fairly stark as well. When you read the status updates from each. Usher tends to be more conversational in the updates to his 10 million Facebook fans, while Timberlake’s 5 million fans get what feels more like a series of press releases.

The success of this charity endeavor would seem to fall on whether their fans were truly engaged and whether NOT being able to use their social media channels would hinder their ability to raise the funds.

In truth, the accounts are not really dead. They’re mostly dead. The various Twitter accounts have continued to put out sporadic messages, like this tweet from Alicia Keys, “@aliciakeys – is dead but Elizabeth & her sone are alive thannks to KCS http://bit.ly/1Z5t7P Text ALICIA to 90999 & reply YES to give $10.”

At the time of this writing, two days into the campaign, they have raised $183,603. More than half of that was raised on the first day. At this current pace, the $1 Million goal won’t be hit until after Christmas. Will they really refrain from using those channels for anything but the sporadic updates to reach the goal until then?

Annette Gallagher, a Facebook friend, had this to say about their absence this morning: “I think the pics and such may have creeped out some potential donors, as well as the “stunt” aura around the whole thing. It is a fantastic charity though, and hey, I won’t complain if it takes Ms. Kardashian a little time to get back on the internets. :)”

It’s the last part of that comment that I’ve heard several times, “I wouldn’t mind if (fill in the blank) stopped tweeting. Others have chimed in with their thoughts as well, and they all lean toward, “I don’t really care if they stop.” This falls in line with a post this morning about four social media myths that fooled marketers… one of them being that “Twitter’s success hinges on celebrities.” I never personally bought into that one, and the truth of that becomes clearer every day. Personally, I hope they get to the $1 Million goal quickly. It’s a great cause.

What’s your take? How do you think this campaign will fair and how influential do you believe celebrities are in the social media space?

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Archived Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano December 3, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Jeff – Whether or not they raise the money and whether or not they ever come back, this does raise an interesting view of the purpose of engagement. I recently started a Fan Business Page on Facebook and with it started a Twitter account (which I have since silenced). In watching who followed me through the Twitter email updates, I noticed that a lot of people I knew (and liked) were following some very suspect (in my opinion) Twitter accounts (Twitter provides a few “you follow” and “they follow” relational stats in the emails). I found it interesting, because when I looked into to these new followers I found spam accounts, accounts that had been dead for a long time, and accounts that were one long stream of product advertising.

    Are we engaging with the people that we follow/follow us? Is it enough? Does it make a difference?

    I usually don’t follow celebrities (unless I know them – you’re a good example) and although I think what they’re doing in spirit is fantastic, I’m not sure I care enough to do something about it.

    When Maya Paveza went dark for MFFO, I remember commenting to her that one of the problems I see with using social media as a method to drive charitable contributions is that many people see “doing their part” as retweeting or mentioning the charity-based event, but will they reach into their pockets and give? Sharing via retweeting, liking, etc. is only good if the call to action works – on both the new people that view it and the person who sent it out. Without action, retweeting and those sorts of communications become just another channel to tune out.

    PS Great use of Klout. Probably the first solid use I’ve seen outside of bragging rights. Klout actually gives me a lower score because of my follow back ratio, which is interesting as I seek quality (as defined by myself), not quantity. Can we define followers as listeners? That’s the true difference at the end of the day and one that will make all the difference in the evolution of social media channels in the years to come.

  2. Roberta Murphy December 3, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Cause may be good, but would rather have had text message and link on my phone to donate directly. Otherwise, out of sight=out of mind, unless I really care about you and/or your cause.

    I feel no connection to these celebrities–and have other causes that really speak to the heart. Number of followers is no lure for me.

    • Jeff Turner December 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

      I looked on Saturday night and the cause had raised rought $250K from the public. It appears that the stars came up with another $250K and “pharma billionaire and noted philanthropist Stewart Rahr has generously offered to match this amount.” So, they got to their $1Million mark.

  3. Mario Avila December 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Any money they can raise is great. Even if they don’t hit a million, it’s still a lot of money raised. At least they are trying to be creative with the “shock and awe” effect. I saw the ABC special last night on changing the world. I’m just glad the networks are doing something besides talking about how bad the economy is, etc…

  4. Amelia Maddox December 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Jeff – Whether or not they raise the money and whether or not they ever come back, this does raise an interesting view of the purpose of engagement. I recently started a Fan Business Page on Facebook and with it started a Twitter account (which I have since silenced). In watching who followed me through the Twitter email updates, I noticed that a lot of people I knew (and liked) were following some very suspect (in my opinion) Twitter accounts (Twitter provides a few “you follow” and “they follow” relational stats in the emails). I found it interesting, because when I looked into to these new followers I found spam accounts, accounts that had been dead for a long time, and accounts that were one long stream of product advertising. Are we engaging with the people that we follow/follow us? Is it enough? Does it make a difference? I usually don’t follow celebrities (unless I know them – you’re a good example) and although I think what they’re doing in spirit is fantastic, I’m not sure I care enough to do something about it. When Maya Paveza went dark for MFFO, I remember commenting to her that one of the problems I see with using social media as a method to drive charitable contributions is that many people see “doing their part” as retweeting or mentioning the charity-based event, but will they reach into their pockets and give? Sharing via retweeting, liking, etc. is only good if the call to action works – on both the new people that view it and the person who sent it out. Without action, retweeting and those sorts of communications become just another channel to tune out. PS Great use of Klout. Probably the first solid use I’ve seen outside of bragging rights. Klout actually gives me a lower score because of my follow back ratio, which is interesting as I seek quality (as defined by myself), not quantity. Can we define followers as listeners? That’s the true difference at the end of the day and one that will make all the difference in the evolution of social media channels in the years to come.

  5. Joe Hage January 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Mr. Turner, hadn’t seen you on TV before. Nice job.

  6. kegel exercises for women July 25, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    I tweeted about this when it was running, I agree with Amelia that just “re-tweeting” something just to be “doing their pert” doesn’t cut it.

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