I gave a short presentation on the value of microblogging for public relations earlier on this week and one thing I didnt have time to talk about was its potential ability to bring people together in the offline world.
The recent twestival events brought the twitterati together offline in 175 cities to raise money for charity:water. In under a month since the first tweet went out, over 1,000 volunteers stepped forward from around the world to host the events, which included food, drink live music and visual art (check out the pictures on Flickr).
On 18th February, the events had raised around $250,000 and that was without confirmation from 80 cities: that’s clean drinking water for 17,000 people for 20 years. The donations will be distributed to 55 water projects in Ethiopia, Uganda and India and will be used to implement sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene education programs. Although a great success so far, the project is still well short of its ambitious target of raising $1,000,000. Co-founder Amanda Rose says that theres lot’s more still to come.
Jemima Kiss covered the london event on the Guardian PDA blog, and it seemed to be a great success. I was a bit surprised at some of the stuffy comments made by readers actually. Some were in the vein of ‘ Err..the event was organised by PR and Marketing folk so it must be a bunch of fluff’ and other’s proclaimed twitter users to be attention seeking navel gazers: it seems people can pick holes in anything these days, however positive its intentions may be.
Hopefully twestival will go some way to proving that the twitter can be used to make things happen in the offline world and that it has the potential to make positive social contributions. Most twitter users are social people, not sheltered geeks and there really is no replacement for face-to-face conversation however rich the online experience has become. Give people any excuse to come together and have a drink and they will; twitter can provide the initial links for people to do this on a huge scale, people that wouldn’t necessarily come together without it.