Something We Realized in Dubuque Today. About Twitter. And Haiti. And Humanity.

I spoke to the Dubuque chapter of the AAF today, making a presentation titled “Engagement is the New Black.”  It opens with a quick review of how radically communications and communications platforms have changed in the past five years due to Web 2.0 and Social Media.  In a question and answer after the talk, we debated Twitter and it’s relative usefulness to clients and marketing professionals.

On the down side, Twitter is not scalable, it’s labor intensive, and it’s populated by a vocal minority with more than a healthy dollop of narcissism; it’s not really that valuable a sales platform.

On the upside, it isn’t really a sales platform anyway–it’s a communications tool.  A meaningful presence in this medium requires commitment but provides wonderful insurance should a company ever find itself on the wrong end of a public relations issue.  Companies that tweet have an audience and a platform that allows direct communication in a timely manner, which can fend off a lot of ugly situations.

We also discussed one more thing about Twitter, and that was the simple short code put out by the American Red Cross just two days ago.  People all over Twitter quickly spread the word that you merely had to text “haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the relief effort.

What’s truly beautiful is that hundreds of thousands did just that.  Thursday evening, the Red Cross confirmed that within forty-eight hours, this one tactic alone generated five million dollars.

Think about that: $5,000,000 worth of pocket change collected from strangers in less than two days.  That’s nothing short of amazing.

The Pennsylvania Dutch have a saying: “Many hands make light work.”  Twitter just expanded that concept into social media.

God bless Twitter.  And God bless Haiti.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

PS:  My sincere thanks to Ryan Brown and Marilyn Kupferschmidt of Kendall/Hunt Publishing for organizing such a well-run event, your generous hospitality, and sitting with me at lunch.  I appreciate it.