1. The Case Study 2. What Can I Teach and How Can I Teach It? 3. Writing for the Facilitator
1. Water Is Life
About The organization was founded in February of 2009, but their large scale success didn't come until their #FirstWorldProblems campaign in Oct of 2012 which now has almost seven million views. At first, they published videos to their youtube channel that highlighted the water crisis in third world countries and shared information about ways to reduce water consumption and donate to the cause via their website. At this time, their primary goal was to raise awareness and money. After the success of the #FirstWorldProblems campaign, the organization began promoting solutions that they were able to engineer with the funds from the movement. A team of researchers developed what they call "the straw" and now use money they raise to deliver filter straws to third world countries.
WaterIsLife originally used youtube as its primary platform, but used the press from the #FirstWorldProblems campaign to create popular Twitter and Facebook accounts. The press from the campaign also allowed the company to expand to nearly every news outlet in existence. Networks like BBC, Time, MTV and Forbes covered the story and promoted the cause as well. Their viral video allowed them to gain enough support to provide more than a million days of clean water to third world countries.
The WaterIsLife Website allows users to learn about the cause, the methods, the problem and different ways to get involved. The website is very well done and very easy to navigate. Ken Surritte, the organization's CEO and founder, spent much of his life working to bring clean water to third world countries. After volunteering for years, he thought of the filter straw concept, so he started the organization WaterIsLife to make it a reality. Now, there are numerous ways to get involved with the organization. Not only can users donate and read about the cause online, but they can learn how to set up a local group to raise funds and spread awareness.
I chose this case study because I had seen the #FirstWorldProblems campaign and was fascinated by the video's ability to change my perspective about popular social media tactics in under two minutes. After I looked into the organization, I realized that it was an even larger success than I thought. I was also struck by their unorthodox methods. The video used an existing hashtag to call attention to two major problems: first world ignorance and the third world water crisis.
Key Issues, Campaigns and Projects The organization started a movement that they called "hashtag killing." The idea behind the #FirstWorldProblems campaign took real tweets with the hashtag#FirstWorldProblemsand made a youtube video of Haitians repeating tweets such as "I hate when my leather seats aren't heated" or "I hate when my phone charger won't reach my bed." They called the success "meme-jacking" or "reverse-trending." It spread awareness of the clean water crisis, raised funds and began a viral movement in the meantime. Some call it the most successful youtube campaign ever.
The #BetterAlive campaign that I proposed in class (see right column) has a similar goal: to spark interest that will cause viewers to learn more about a cause. However, this specific company uses tactics that I had never even thought of. Their decision to take advantage of a popular hashtag and flip its meaning was very effective, strategic and creative. So many people had already used the hashtag, so when they saw the video, they were encouraged to take a second look at their social media presence and think twice about the content they publish. This guilt contributed to the success of the campaign. After the first video went viral, the company began to target specific twitter accounts in videos that showed children speaking directly to the twitter users who abused the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems. The Haitian children apologized to the users for their "struggle" and said that they would help them solve them. This direct hit drew media attention and helped the campaign continue to spread.
I used the WaterIsLife website to research the cause as well as their youtube channel and other network's coverage. I think the class can learn a lot about the success of viral material from the campaign. The combination of using an existing trend and causing controversy by calling attention to ignorance allowed many users to get involved and feel personally connected to the campaign. I also think that the clean cut website adds to the legitimacy of the company. When researching other organizations, I found myself losing interest if their websites were not well done.
When discussing a 2065 "World Without Borders," I predicted a drop in biodiversity. Between climate change, urban development, and hunting trends (think Cecil the Lion), many species are likely to go extinct by 2065. In an effort to preserve biodiversity and stop animal cruelty, the #BetterAlive campaign will both spread awareness about animal cruelty and raise money for the WWF that will go toward habitat preservation and research. To participate in the campaign, bloggers and facebook, instagram and twitter users will post a video or picture similar to the mock post below and use the hashtag #BetterAlive. Users will tag other users in their posts in order to spread the movement and tell them that if they do not post a similar video in twenty four hours, they need to donate to the BetterAlive fund. Users are encouraged to use their pets and/or stuffed animals as their heads while dancing or doing otherwise "lively" activities. The campaign will mobilize users to donate to the cause and learn more about it by creating original content. When users pass the campaign along to their friends, circulation of information about wildlife preservation and the WWF will increase. Because the campaign requires users to use their personal social media accounts, they are extremely independent in their actions and therefore are more actively involved in the process. As a result, participants feel like they have a good deal of power. As the campaign spreads and grows on social media, the participants will see the broad span of their actions and feel personally involved in the movement.
2. The Birth of the Workshop: First Draft and Peer Commentary