Social Networkers Show Their Heart

NEW YORK Last Wednesday night, David Armano asked a favor of his Twitter network: he wanted to help out a family friend fallen on hard times. Armano, vp of interaction design at digital shop Critical Mass, is not just any random Twitter user. He boasts over 8,000 followers, and writes a well-read blog, Logic + Emotion.

What unfolded is destined to be a case study in the power of micro-networks and influencers. Within 24 hours Armano raised nearly $15,000 for Daniela and her needy family, cobbling together donations from 472 people.

Some lessons from the experience:

Big Influence Comes From Small Things: Debates over what it means to be an “influencer” can miss the point. Armano has influence with thousands, built short update by short update. He attracted all those donations not simply because of a heartbreaking story of a woman in need but thanks to thousands of small interactions over many months. Social media influence is trust earned, not given, over the long term.

Secondary Distribution Is Critical: Armano tapped not just the reach of his followers, but encouraged them to “retweet” his request by sending it on to their networks. This exponentially grew the reach of his message, reaching thousands more people. The velocity is apparent in how quickly donations came in-by the next morning, over $11,000 was raised.

Authenticity Scales: To date, Twitter has mostly been used for personal promotion. Twitter celebrities with tens of thousands of followers like Jason Calacanis, Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki have used their networks, effectively, to promote their products or personal brands. Armano took his influence and flipped it, using it to direct attention on a deeply personal cause. (Daniela is living with his family.) “I’m hopeful we can move the discussion from who has influence to what we do with what influence we have,” he wrote.