While people from all over the world took to Facebook and Twitter on December 1st to show their support and spread awareness for World AIDS Day, one group was suspiciously quiet: Hollywood celebrities. Stars from Alicia Keys to Elijah Wood staged a "digital death" to raise money for Keep a Child Alive, of which Keys is the co-founder. Together, they took a social-networking vow of silence and urged fans to "buy back [their] life." Yesterday, the campaign reached its goal of $1 million, which will benefit those living with HIV/AIDS in India and Africa.
Despite all the star power behind this campaign’Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake were also involved in the effort’fundraising got off to a very slow start, with the group raising less than $200,000 in the first two days. It sounds like a fair bit of money, I know’but when you consider that each of these celebs actually has millions of followers on Twitter, it puts things into perspective.
Here’s what I’m wondering: Is posting pictures of yourself in a coffin with a BlackBerry really a good use of star power to raise awareness and funds for such an important cause? Doesn’t a week of silence have the exact opposite effect when you’re trying to spread a message? And perhaps most importantly, exactly how huge is your ego that you think fans will be so devastated not to read your digital pearls of wisdom (see: “I’m soooo sleepy I just need a 7min nap!“) that they’ll rush to donate, just to read your 140-character gems once again?
Don’t get me wrong’I’m all for people campaigning for a great cause. As we just saw with Movember, people working toward a common goal can achieve great things. And even a mismanaged celebrity campaign is better than no campaign at all. But the idea that not tweeting for five days is some kind of great "sacrifice" makes my head spin. Yes, we’re all hooked on the Internet these days, and Twitter and Facebook are undeniably trendy’but with millions of followers on each of your accounts, celebrities, you could have used those social networks so much more effectively.
What did you think of the "Digital Death" campaign? Was it innovative? Offensive? Did it inspire you to get involved? I’d love to hear your thoughts.