A Powerful Story on Using Social Media for Good

It all started with a tweet from a Social Media Influencer Jérôme Jarre on March 15 after he was on a call with a volunteer in Somalia who had just witnessed a 6-year-old girl died from dehydration after walking 90 miles with her mother in search of water.

United Nations is already calling it the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of second world war as more than 20 million face starvation and famine. In Somalia alone, 6.2 people are in need for of desperate aid.

In his video, Jarre makes a case that everyone is on social media from food and water corporations to airlines, what if they can find an airline filled with food and water, and send it to Somalia and the local NGO’s can take care of distribution.

With Turkish Airlines being the only airline that flies to Somalia, he started a GoFundme campaign called “Love Army for Somalia” and challenged viewers to post on social media #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia to convince them to use one of their flights to Somalia for immediate relief.

The campaign took off, and other social media influencers like Juanpa Zurita, Amanda Cerny, and Casey Neistat joined the movement to help spread the word.

Within days, A-list celebrities like Ben Stiller and Ed Norton along with other famous athletes joined the cause.

Turkish Airlines listened and came back with a positive answer also said they will keep donating a plane to be filled with food until the end of the famine.

This campaign received $1 million within 24 hours with the average donation being around $28 — the highest donation of $50,000 came from GoFund & Alex and Ani, a jewelry company.

Basketball player Wilson Chandler and DJ Calvin Harris donated $25,000 each, followed by $10,000 from Casey Neistat and Jérôme Jarre. Stiller’s foundation is accepting donations for the cause, so they are tax deductible.

The goal was to reach $1 million in 10 days and the amount of money raised in such a short time by so many people takes my breath away says, Jarre. However, they don’t want this to be a one-off campaign and to keep the momentum going they’ve come up with another hashtag, #NominatedForSomalia and asks each donor to approach three friends to donate via social media.

Jérôme Jarre is in Somalia right now and sharing wonderful images that will put a smile on your face and ensure help is reaching the right people.

The latest update is that they are still going to use Turkish Airline to deliver emergency malnourished baby food they can’t find locally but to help the local economy, they are sourcing food locally now and getting water trucks over to affected parts.

Humanitarian aid specialists are excited about the attention the campaign is generating for Somalia, and it is heart-warming to see the impact of a single tweet that turned into a snowball movement and enabling people like Jarre to go out there and help people.

However far fetched the idea may be, I hope this campaign helps in eradicating famine from the region. Meanwhile, here are some interesting lessons from this campaign:

1. “Social media can be used for more than posting selfies. “Love Army” for Somalia is not the first time social media has been used for a good cause, remember #NoMakeUpSelfie which helped generate over 8 million pounds in less than a week for cancer research” Hafiz Muhammad Ali, Founder & MD @ Omnicore UAE.

2. Albeit we are not yet past using Twitter for unsavory wars, it is still an instrumental tool for viral campaigns because of wider reach potential and it’s extremely low cost. Social Entrepreneurs can use it for cause-based campaigns to share meaningful stories and report on their activity to help spread the cause even further.

3. Social Media Influencers are more powerful than ever, and people are more likely to listen to them and take action. Jérôme Jarre is an excellent example which shows how a handful of influencers were able to get attention from Hollywood celebrities and even convince an airline to join their cause.

4. Transparency yields action and builds trust and is the reason why the donations are still coming in a Jarre keeps his supporters updated with latest updates through social media. It is this transparency that has helped other organizations like Pencils of Promise receive increasing support from influencers and celebrities year on year.