The Power of Social Media – The MB Tweet Race

Those of you that follow me on Twitter (and didn’t participate) are probably painfully aware of the amount of tweeting I did this week. It was all for a good cause, though.

Mercedes-Benz hosted a “Tweet-fueled race” to the “big game” (don’t want the NFL to sue me for using their trademarked name). Essentially, from the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2011 until this evening (Friday, Feb. 5, 2011), four teams challenged their Twitter followers to show support for them and their charities. Each tweet that included your team’s hashtag gave your team a little virtual fuel to make it from their starting point to Dallas, Texas. There were various challenges, such as posting photos of landmarks, Twitter rounds of songs, etc.

Each team was given a celebrity “Team Coach”. The team coaches were supposed to help garner attention to the contest and gather support for their teams.┬áTo start things off, Mercedes-Benz donated $25,000 to each team’s charity (which was chosen by each celebrity coach); with another $20,000 being donated to the winning team’s charity of choice. You can read some background on Todd, the race and his involvement by checking out Eric Stoller’s blog post.

Throughout the course of the race, I witnessed something truly incredible. As a supporter of “Team S”, led by Todd Sanders (@tsand) from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, I watched my Tweetdeck search column move faster than I could read. That wasn’t just for an hour or two, either. That basically happened non-stop for three days (during the day; as the contest paused overnight each night).

The chart I’ve embedded below shows the activity of the four teams’ hashtags during the contest. As you can see, there were very few times that Twitter wasn’t buzzing with activity about the race. Near the end of the contest, the hashtag for Team S made up nearly .15% of all tweets on Twitter.

At this point, Mercedes-Benz has said they will not announce the winner of the contest until tomorrow at 3 p.m. However, regardless of who wins, the experience has been unreal. During the contest, Team S also raised more than $5,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital (independent of the $25,000 – hopefully $45,000 if Team S wins – that Mercedes-Benz donated).

Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find any tools that actually count tweets, but, according to Twitter search, more than 1,500 tweets (that’s all Twitter search will return) were posted in less than 90 minutes with the #MBTeamS hashtag.

So, what’s my point in all this rambling? First of all, I think it’s amazing how well the higher education community (which made up the majority of supporters for Team S) bonds together for a cause. From basically the beginning of the race, Team S had more than twice as many points in the contest as any of the other 3 teams (in fact, throughout much of the race, Team S had more points than the other 3 teams combined). The second point is just how powerful social media can be.

In this case, we bonded together to raise (hopefully) more than $50,000 for St. Jude. Imagine how much more we could do with that kind of power? If we could effect that kind of change in 3 days by simply tweeting a lot for a fun cause, imagine what we could accomplish if given a truly important task.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Mercedes-Benz for its donations to the four charities, and for putting together this contest (by the way, the winning team – each team was made up of two team members – wins a new Mercedes for each of the two team members). I also want to take this chance to express how proud I am to be part of such a passionate, fun and powerful community. I look forward to more adventures and causes that we can support together; and I hope you’ll get involved next time.

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