Last year when AplusK was trying to beat the cnnbrk twitter account to 1MM followers, he went all over the news talking about how this marked the beginning of social media’s ‘turning point’ into mainstream culture. I found it all rather self-serving*, especially considering some of the conversations we (Electronic Arts) had with his digital people at Katalyst Media (who were very nice) as EA got involved in the race. But after this weekend there’s one thing he said that I finally agreed with:

“Originally, I defined Twitter as an ego stream when I first saw it. But then what I realized is if we can transform that into something that’s positive that can actually effectively change the world, that can be a really valuable tool.”

Last night at 9pm I got off the phone with my brother who confirmed he would be going to Haiti on a relief plane in two days. The coverage of this tragic event seems like when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans a few years ago. I was finishing my senior year in college, about to get engaged, and completely broke. I watched in horror but felt hopeless and unable to give anything but my prayers. Haiti would be different. I told my brother to mark me down for a sizable cash donation to hand out to the people directly when he gets to Haiti tomorrow.

Then it dawned on me that others might want the same opportunity and I posted this tweet and a similar message on Facebook:

“My brother is going to Haiti this weekend. If you want to help make a direct impact join me in sending money with him. DM/RE if interested.”

Replies came quickly. First $100, then $250, then another $50, then a $500 donation! By morning friends and followers had pledged $1,500 to send to Haiti. My brother has $1,500 more dollars in $1’s, $5’s, and $10’s to hand out and disperse among the desperate people in Port-au-Prince. Incredible. With little effort, Twitter and Facebook quickly facilitated relief for dozens of unknown people on the other side of the globe.

A typical (and often valid) marketing complaint with social media is its inability to define true impact or value. What does it really mean to have “1,000 Followers” or “10,000 Facebook Fans”? What true value comes from 500 Diggs, or 30,000 YouTube views? From my brief experience last night it seems clear that its true value is its ability to “change the world”. Twitter has done it before, hopefully I’ll be apart of the next time it happens.

Special thanks to those that supported this effort including: ilovespots, b4bendetta, kokanovich, Kid_Hypocrite, and my friend Kamla Knight.


*Ashton was cool during this whole 1MM follower race until while watching our spoof of him and Larry King in the green room before his Larry King Live appearance, he withdrew his approval of our video that was created to promote and drive awareness for Malaria No More. The worst part…..he said he wouldn’t approve it without being paid! Classic. Ashton went from ‘changing to world’ to ‘show me the money’ in less time then it takes to bake a Hot Pocket.