The USAID FWD Campaign successfully garnered 117 million forwards of crisis facts on FWD Day, dwarfing the goal of 13.3 million—the number of people currently affected by the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Celebrities, NGOs, corporations, and the American public joined forces to amplify the message through a host of online channels including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, email, blogs and listservs. The results were staggering, not only because of the number of forwards, but because of the new audiences reached, many perhaps for the first time.
In this blog post we wanted to share some of the inspiring ways you got involved.
Social Media Explosion
YouTube partnered with USAID by highlighting FWD videos on its homepage and by hosting a featured page for the campaign. This enabled over 1 million views of FWD videos. YouTube also spread the word to their more than 47 million Facebook fans.
Americans across the country of all ages and backgrounds led the effort by relentlessly propelling this message to friends, colleagues, and family through social network channels. Nearly 24 million impressions were generated by #FWD on Twitter alone. Many people used their creativity to craft their own unique messages. Some even filmed personal public service announcement videos! Here are a few highlights:
Musician, Arthur Garros performed and filmed a tribute for the Horn of Africa, which he mixed with photos of the crisis and posted to the FWD YouTube page.
Visit youtube.com/FWD to see these and more FWD videos submitted by YouTube celebrities and Americans throughout the county. You can view and share videos from YouTube celebrities such as Brittani, Lisa Nova, and the “Chocolate Rain” signer, as well as videos from Second City, Funny or Die, and Barely Political.
Amplified: Websites, Blogs, and Events
Online meal delivery company Seamless offered discounts on food orders for customers who forwarded the facts to friends on Facebook, offering up to a 20% discount for 800 people to share the facts. Customers willingly accepted the challenge, and shared the facts over 1700 times, reaching thousands of people.
In his blog, A View from the Cave, writer Tom Murphy explored the power of social media to reach bigger audiences. By linking celebrity news to facts about the crisis on Twitter, he attracted more readers and generated more discussion and retweets. Read about it here!
The White House also got invovled. Jon Carson, White House Director of Public Engagement, held a Twitter Chat for FWD day with representatives from the FWD campaign and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. Twitter users had the opportunity to send in questions about the crisis with the hashtag #FWDatWH. Questions came in from across the country on topics like irrigation, infrastructure projects, climate change, and how the public can get involved.
The staff at USAID was energized by FWD Day and organized a walk and reflection to commemorate the occasion during their lunch break. Foreign Service officers and civil servants alike took the opportunity to share stories and insights. Many spoke from their own life experience in the Horn of Africa.
FWD>Day has proven the capacity of the American People to raise awareness through the accessible online platforms that we all use. A choice to send an email, post on Facebook or upload a simple YouTube video can literally have a lifesaving impact. The inspiring creativity of others showcased here helps us to renew our commitment to keep up the search for new ways to forward the facts!