Celebrities Missing The Point of Twitter

by Phil Buckley on December 14, 2010

in Social Media

Kim Kardashian is Digitally Dead

If a celebrity stops tweeting does anyone care?

The short answer is – no.

When a bunch of celebrities took part in a “Digital Death” campaign to raise a million dollars for the Keep a Child Alive charity they totally missed the mark. The celebs agreed that they would “kill” themselves on social media until they raised they $1,000,000. They expected it would take 1 day.

Did you catch that? They agreed that they would remain silent until the money magically appeared from their followers being so desperate to here their daily updates that they would donate.

“The world’s top celebrities are sacrificing their digital lives to give real life to millions of people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India,” the campaign initially stated. “That means no more Twitter or Facebook updates from any of them. No more knowing where they are, what they had for dinner, or what interesting things are happening in their lives. From here on out, they’re dead. Kaput. Finished.”

The campaign sputtered right out of the gate. They started on December 1st and it raised less than $100,000 after the first 24 hours. Day two raised about $180,000.

By the end of day 5, the celebrities hadn’t even pulled in half their goal. Now some cracks started to appear.

Serena Williams didn’t stay all that dead and tweeted out that she needed help… and that she would be appearing on the Home Shopping Network.

Serena Williams is NOT digitallydead

Waking the digitallydead for HSN

For a celebrity like Kim Kardashian who can earn $10,000 per tweet, this was a bad situation.

Finally Stewart Rahr donated $500,000 so that the celebs could get back to Tweeting and Facebooking.

So what are the take-aways from this horribly managed campaign?

  • Going silent is a bad way to raise money
  • Nobody notices one less person in their Twitter stream
  • Celebrities will only stay dead as long as it’s convenient for them

The social economy is an attention economy. These celebrities and whoever dreamed up the “dead” part of this campaign failed because they completely removed themselves from that economy. Celebrities are considered celebrities because the media covers them and they self-promote.

This campaign reminds me of when McLean Stevenson left tv’s most popular show to work on better projects but ended up in The Cat from Outer Space.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard December 15, 2010 at 8:35 am

The funny part is – I had never even heard about the challenge… Twitter is an amazing animal, but there are 100′s of ways to do it wrong. Unfortunately, if people continue to kill it, there’s a strong chance it will ultimately be the end of twitter.


Mike Brown Mike Brown December 16, 2010 at 10:46 am

Whats a great article i didn’t even hear about this happening. I’m just glad Kim K is back to making $10k on a tweet.


Joshua S Sweeney December 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm

This is a prime example of people overstating their influence on Twitter. Just because a lot of people read your tweets or even respond, it means absolutely jack in the realm of convincing them to make personal sacrifices for a cause that you support.


Victoria Morehead December 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I guess this just proves that no one really pays attention to anything on Twitter but their own Tweets. I think this would have been more successful if they asked for $ to *keep* Kim Kardashian silent.


Phil Buckley December 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I think you’re right Victoria!


Jessica K. December 31, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I’m really glad to see this post. I cannot understand where this staying silent to promote and raise money for different organizations idea started, but I think it’s a terrible one. You need to be in everyone’s face and you need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (ther was an autism campaign that did the stay silent thing too which was just awful, in my opinion). I don’t really care if celebrities play dead on twitter…actually, it does bother me but more for the “making light of the fact that people really are dying” aspect (That picture of Kim K. lying in a coffin all sexy like? PLEASE.).

These campaigns hurt more than help. Thank you for speaking your (and my, and other people’s!) mind!


Rachel Nabors January 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

This incident proves something I learned long ago when I ventured onto my first message board as a teenager: People notice when you’re online. They don’t notice when you’re not.

It’s the same with social events like parties. If you think everyone will miss you and wonder where you are if you stay home and pout, truth is, they won’t. They’re too busy partying! Teenager dramatics don’t work online.

A better strategy is to stay active and push your agenda like an adult. Leave the silent treatment to teenagers ;)


Phil Buckley January 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

I’m impressed that you were actually that smart when you were a teenager! You’re right though, and that’s the reason Greenpeace, PETA and political protests work – they create a ruckus that makes you look to see what’s going on.


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