Digital/Online Marketing Communications Strategy

What’s So Special About Twestival?

By on March 22, 2010 in social media, Twitter with 0 Comments

Philadelphia Twestival logo

The 2010 Twestival is nearly here.

With this year’s Twestival, on March 25, cities around the world join in a collective effort to raise money on behalf of Concern Worldwide, an organization that works to improve life circumstances for impoverished people. Funds collected through Twestival will help support Concern Worldwide’s education projects.

The Twestival event in the city where I reside — Philadelphia — is being organized by Gloria Bell and Melissa Thiessen. They cooked up a scavenger hunt as part of the local festivities.

Gloria recently shared her thoughts on the festival as well as the role of social media as a fundraising tool. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Interview with Philadelphia Twestival co-organizer, Gloria Bell

What made you decide to have a scavenger hunt? Because it’s fun? Is that part of the point?

Gloria: The idea is to do something to get people who talk to one another online to meet face to face. Most Twestivals plan a party event of some kind. We thought about how much fun it would be to have everyone wander around Old City [a historic area of Philadelphia]. The idea came from PodCamp. They had one and everybody had such a great time, we thought, let’s do it again.

How will the scavenger hunt happen?

Gloria: Everyone will gather at National Mechanics [a bar/restaurant] and then break up into teams. They’ll be given clue sheets that have riddles, questions and locations where you have to go out and get the answer… For each clue, you have to tweet back the answer or TwitPix the photo to the Philadelphia Twestival account. The organizing team adds up the points and decides who is the winner, and they get their choice of prizes. Then we raffle off the other prizes…. We put a call out on Twitter and most of the prizes came from that.

You’re making Twitter an integral part of the actual event. How else does Twestival connect to Twitter and other social media?

Gloria: It’s all organized and promoted, not one hundred percent through Twitter, but primarily through Twitter. We have a Facebook page and we do email blasts, but the primary portion of the event — planning, organizing, rallying of volunteers, soliciting of sponsors and donations — is all done through Twitter.

It seems Twitter helps build the excitement and really turns it into an event. Why do you think that happens?

Gloria: I think it speaks to the power of social media in general. To be able to so quickly and so far, spread the word about something. To motivate people. To get them enthused. It gives us the power to reach people so much quicker than we otherwise would be able to.

I agree. I’ve given to causes I’ve seen on Twitter. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s the instant nature of it. I’ve given to people I don’t even know. Someone I’m a Twitter pal with says, “This is my friend and they need help.” Also, there’s a lot of fundraising going on for all kinds of things…  Why is Twitter such a magnet for people who want to do good things?

Gloria: Part of it is the nature of the medium itself. The people who are involved with Twitter are already into building relationships. Even though they may not be the direct relationships that most of us think of, it’s like, if someone’s your friend they’re my friend too.

That’s how we build our following on Twitter. We connect with people with whom we have common interests and then we connect with people they know. I think the same thing can be said for the power of charity. It’s the same connection.

This makes sense. Still, there’s a lot of things to give to. Yet if it’s on Twitter somehow it can be more powerful. Maybe it’s the reach?

Gloria: The reach is part of it. Can I reach almost 4,000 people in my normal day-to-day life? No. Can I reach 4,000 people instantly with a single [Twitter] message? Yes. I can. The immediacy of it is a huge draw. The fact that I can give to this cause, right now, in this limited attention span lifestyle we have.

Here’s a perfect example: I got a mailer from Planned Parenthood yesterday and it’s on my desk. It will be there when I get around to looking at it. I am going to send Planned Parenthood money. But it’s not the same as having instant gratification. And that’s what happens online. It’s that instant of “yes we know we’ve made a difference” feeling.

There’s still time for YOU to make a difference

Thanks Gloria, for sharing such thoughtful insights. You’ve been working hard to ensure the Philadelphia Twestival is a big success. Here’s hoping our city raises a nice pot of money.

And readers, there’s still time for you to get involved with this global movement for social good.  Head to the Twestival website to find out what’s happening in your area.

– Deni Kasrel

What are your thoughts on Twestival and using social media for social good? Comments welcome.

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About the Author

About the Author: Deni Kasrel is seasoned (slightly spicy) specialist in digital/online communications. .

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