Latest Trend In Social Advocacy By Donating Twitter Characters

Posted By: Poketors - May 12, 2012
You can donate clothes, canned goods, old eyeglasses and even your rusty ’87 Yugo to charity. Now a growing number of causes are urging donors to chip in their unused Twitter characters, too.
Latest Trend In Social Advocacy By Donating Twitter Characters
Image Credit : Google
It works like this: send a tweet through special app, and any unused space is filled up with a public-service announcement like “Support injured servicemen and women” and a link to the charity.

Groups are using it to drum up support for Japanese earthquake relief, fair trade efforts and – this month – the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps injured veterans.

“Many people add a bumper sticker to their car or wear an advocacy bracelet to show their support of a specific cause,” said Pam Wickham, vice president of communications for Raytheon, which is funding the Wounded Warrior effort. “But stickers and bracelets only have an effect on people who are actually there to see them. Social media advocacy has no limits — and better yet, it gets people actually engaged in your cause.”

Last year an ice cream company used the concept to promote May 14’s World Fair Trade Day. A website counter showed a running tally of donated characters.

The Japan Up relief campaign took a more visual tack, posting a graphic of a tattered Japanese flag that was slowly restored as people donated characters.

The idea is to contribute “social capital” as a kind of free publicity, said Mark Wilson of the Boston Group, which designed the Raytheon campaign.

“You’re basically donating your influence,” Wilson said. “It’s a very powerful indicator of participation.”
The Raytheon campaign, called Hashtags for Heroes, adds mobile applications for the Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad.

The Boston Group built the app in-house over 3½ months, Wilson said.

The Apple app store took about a week to test and approve the iPhone app. Approval from the Android and Blackberry app stores three or four days, Wilson said. None of the stores asked for any changes.

Programmers also built a set of browser plug-ins and a website. Stephanie Schierholz, a former NASA social media manager recently hired by Raytheon, helped guide the writing of 133 standardized tweets for the program.

Ads in Defense News, Politico, and the websites of the Wall Street Journal, the National Journal and Roll Call urge readers to download the apps. A video available on YouTube shows users how to use them.

Raytheon launched the program on May 3 and collected more than 87,000 characters in the first week. The company has also built a microsite featuring profiles of veterans, interviews, slideshows and a counter showing the total of donated characters.

“I think we’re at the beginning of a trend,” Wilson said. “In this day and age, that’s what it’s all about – connecting with as many people as possible with as great a frequency as possible, so that people learn more about this cause.”

While there’s no receipt and you can’t write it off on your taxes, these twitter donations can be just as powerful as cash, Wickham said. “Awareness and advocacy are powerful motivators in any community, and the online community is no different. “We’d love to see not just thousands of characters donated, but thousands of new supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project That’s the power of social media.”

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