Big name US actors, recording artists, and celebrities took part in a kind of conversational castration on 1 December (World AIDS Day) – “killing off” their Facebook and Twitter profiles until enough fans and followers rose them from the dead by donating to charity.
As CharityCeleb documents, the social media suicides (albeit frustratingly temporary) were well covered in the US media; resulting in a huge amount of raised awareness for Alicia Keys’ co-founded AIDS charity ‘Keep a Child Alive‘.
And awareness seems about it, as so far the stunt has raised a fraction of its ambitious $1m target.
I see it like this; social media / digital comms is a key conversational medium for the celebrities themselves to talk to their fans. The same is true for organisations and charities and their supporters.
It is very rare, and dare I say slightly egotistical to assume (erm unless you are Stephen Fry perhaps) to cause a furore if you announce you’re “quitting Twitter”. It strikes me that most people will likely say “oh well” and totter off to get their celeb gossip fix from Heat magazine or any of the tabloids instead. I would have thought it genuinely unlikely that fans will part with their cash to have their “privilege” of following a celeb on Twitter, Myspace or Facebook reinstated – because that privilege is almost entirely the celebrity’s. They get an unmediated channel with which to air their egos, and can bypass traditional media and its agendas and misquotations.
My reaction was one of confusion – why divorce this channel that benefits you, more than your fans? And how long will the celebs hold off? And would a sponsored silence be a more effective fundraiser to escape the more inane streams of (un)consciousness?
If this happened in England, I have visions of a forlorn Jedward blinking moronically into a desolate Twitter inbox, whilst seas of kids migrated their affection to @Wagner (“it’s Vargner, kiddies, VARgner).
8 December update:
How embarrassing. It seems, as reported on Mashable, that the celebs’ PRs had to convince Stewart Rahr, a Brooklyn-based billionaire, to stump up $1/2 million to resurrect the failed campaign.
I really hope lessons were learned here…I hate to say I told you so, but….