I was reading with interest Tim Ferriss’ ‘ethical bribe’ idea to raise money for charity using a system he calls Tweet to Beat.
Essentially, for every new follower Ferris gets on Twitter over the next fortnight, he will donate $1 of his own money to DonorsChoose.org, with an anonymous supporter adding another $2 for a total of $3. Ferriss hopes to recruit 50,000 new followers (although he’s open to extending that number at a later date) and hopes to raise a minimum of $150,000. There are some great prizes to be won, too.
It’s a neat idea. Ferriss is often ahead of the curve when it comes to spotting opportunities in new markets and I wonder if he’s on to something here that could potentially get very big indeed. However, perhaps it could be better realised by applying his idea the other way around.
If you’re a regular to Twittercism you’ll know that one of my personal bugaboos is celebrities on the platform who don’t follow anybody apart from other celebrities (and sometimes even that’s a bit of a bonus). I mean, really, what’s the point? If all you want is for other people – aka your ‘fans’ – to read what you have to say, get a column in a newspaper. Twitter is and should always be about socialising; about meeting, and more important engaging with, new people. It’s a social network.
I know, I know: you’re very famous, and very busy, and far too important to listen to the random and no doubt inane Twitterings of the little people.
But here’s a thought: if the celebrities aren’t willing to make that effort by themselves, why not bribe them to do so, and give all the monies raised to charity?
Here’s how it could work: Celebrity X could be interested in raising money for Charity A. Anyone who wants Celebrity X to follow them would sign up to a special page on Charity A’s website and pay a token amount for this privilege; maybe $1. Celebrity X would see these fundraisers, and agree to follow them for a fixed period of time. Maybe a month or a year, perhaps indefinitely. We’d have to agree terms.
Some celebrities already have 250,000+ followers. Most of them have over 100,000. But the majority are following just a handful of other people. Think how much money could be raised quickly and easily. And it would be fun for the donators and, perhaps equally of importance in Twitter’s often insular little world, a bit of a learning curve for the celeb.
Throw in a few extras like special prizes for a few randomly-selected donators, and you could generate a lot of buzz.
Okay: in a perfect world, this wouldn’t be an issue because Celebrity X would already be following all of his ‘fans’ anyway. But because it isn’t (and let’s face it probably never will be), this is a genuine and real opportunity to raise some much-needed cash for the folk and organisations that really need it. (And if you don’t care about having anybody following you, famous or otherwise, you could simply opt out.)
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Would you pay a charitable dollar to have your favourite Twittersleb follow you?
Meantime, you can do your part for Ferriss’ campaign by following @tferriss right now.