Celebrities Boycott Social Media to Raise Funds for HIV/AIDS Victims

On December 3, 2010, wrote:

In a new social media marketing ploy – call it the “Twitter Boycott” strategy – the Los Angeles Times reports that social media superstars Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Seacrest, among many others, are boycotting all social media sites until $1 million is raised for the charitable foundation, “Keep a Child Alive.”

The “Keep a Child Alive” charity, which is dedicated to providing life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, care, and support services to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS, is fronted by talented singer and new mother Alicia Keys.

The concerted sign-off of leading celebrity Tweeters and Facebook “friends” – what is described in the campaign as “digital death” – is slated to remain in effect until the $1 million target is met. In addition to swearing off all social media activity, the altruistic celebrity superstars will post “final tweet and testament” videos to the “Keep a Child Alive” website. Lady Gaga’s final tweet is already live on their website.

The often overlooked situation of children with HIV/AIDS is “so important [as] to shock you to the point of waking up,” Ms. Keys told the L.A. Times. “It’s not that people don’t care or it’s not that people don’t want to do something, it’s that they never thought of it quite like that.”

Hitting the charity’s fundraising target should be a testament to the power of the new social media and the public’s thirst for “personal” contact with their favorite stars. Let’s hope that social media fans will contribute both financially and creatively in helping “Keep a Child Alive” raise the profile of HIV/AIDS sufferers.

In a perverse way, this ‘anti-social media’ marketing campaign reminds me of the now-classic National Lampoon cover that featured a winsome puppy with a gun to its head, with the caption, threatening potential purchasers, “Buy This Magazine or We Shoot the Dog!” Still, if, as expected, this marketing campaign meets its goal, it will demonstrate the powerful potential that the new media has for non-profit charitable fundraising.

People wishing to contribute to “Keep a Child Alive” and break the celebrity boycott can do so through text message donations and bar-code technology supported through the organization’s “Buy Life” campaign.

About the author: James Barry is a freelance writer covering social media marketing and related topics for Toronto SEO firm, Wolf21.com.

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