Every day it seems like social media’s influence is growing. Get poor service somewhere? Blast it to Facebook and Twitter to alert your friends (or the company who gave you the poor service in the first place). Come up with a stupid name for your new service and a pricing plan that screws your customers? People are going to spread the word and complain. Want to charge people to use their debit cards to make up for the credit cards they aren’t using? I don’t think so. And I can’t even believe how much traffic I saw on Twitter and Facebook in the recent USOC/Ravelry debacle.
Tonight at knitting, our little group was discussing how social media is giving consumers like us a voice and a way to spread information. It is both heartening and a bit terrifying to see how quickly things can spread (or “go viral” as they say) and how it can influence businesses in both good and bad ways. Tonight I heard about one of those feel good things.
In April, a 9 year old Scottish girl named Martha started a blog: Neverseconds. She started it as a writing exercise with her father’s participation and supervision. The premise was this: each day she took a picture of her school lunch. Then she would post about it, evaluating it on 5 criteria:
number of mouthfuls, courses, healthiness, price and the presence of unwanted hair
In the space of about a month the page had nearly 4 million hits.
Martha decided to do something positive with this publicity – she started taking donations. All the proceeds would go to Mary’s Meals, an organization that feeds school children in 7 countries. Then she started inviting other kids around the world to share their lunches on her blog. More hits came in and so did more donations.
But then she hit a wrinkle: her school told her she could no longer take pictures at school. She wrote a simple goodbye message on the blog. Within 24 hours the word was out and the press was covering the story. Within a few days the school relented and allowed her to continue. To date she has raised over £100,000 which is enough to build a canteen in Malawi to feed school children.