#Blogger: When influence goes bad

The case of Belle Gibson has resurfaced today as she is facing a legal action in Australia over “deceptive conduct”, that may cost her and her company “The Whole Pantry” around a million. The blogger was very popular and gained people trust through social media, and she promised charities donations, raised through her app and book, which has never been made. Questions had been raised that led to the discovery of her faking her illness ,  a brain cancer, to gain more sympathy. Even more troubling the fact that she pretended to get cured without conventional treatment, through simply an healthy lifestyle and diet, misleading many of her followers who might had left their chemotherapy as a result of her statements.

It has been suggested she suffers from Munchausen Syndrome, a psychiatric disorder  for which people fake  illness to draw attention and sympathy (named after the 18th century German baron famous for embellishing tales of his military exploits to anyone who’d listen), and interestingly but not surprising, if that were true, she would appear to be not the first blogger to suffer from such problem. Another famous cases include Lacey Spears,  who went to the extreme of killing her own child to gain media attention, Kaycee Nicole, who used to pretend to be teenager with Leukaemia! Trust in the space of Internet is  valuable and volatile currency, and the lack of proper screening is not uncommon  characteristic for online personalities. Charities need to be aware of this fact when approaching influencers.



Glasgow: American Teens to the rescue?

The video is part of a fundraising campaign that went wrong.

Two American siblings decided to rise money for Glasgow as they proclaimed “we are planing to participate with local youth, sharing a message of hope and goodwill with energy and enthusiasm”. According to them “this could turn the situation around” for Glasgow referring to the poor state of the city and the Glasgow effects.

The video went viral reaching the Scots who were angered and offended with the siblings’ description of their city. Most likely they just wanted to raise a money for a nice trip to Glasgow, and maybe volunteering for a bit, but they didn’t expect that their message will reach out the scots turning them into unwelcome guests.  Lesson: plan and research your content before it goes live.

7 top influencers support #ROAR4TCA

A campaign has been lunched by Collab supporting Teen Cancer America  to spread the word about the teen cancer on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Vine. They requested from their audience three things: (1) To post a “ROAR” photo or video (2) To tag  three friends and ask them to do the same (3) To tag the campaign name along with the specified channel.

They also went further by asking 7 Influencers to be part of the campaign:

  1. Brendon McNerney (Vine: 405.7 K followers)
  2. BigCatDerek ( Vine: 1.1M – Youtube: 46,932 subscriber)
  3. Julia Abner (Vine:107K- Instagram:9,500)
  4. Woodsie (Vine: 242.5 K- Youtube: 18,021- Facebook: 66,424- Twitter: 3463)
  5. Natalia Lopez  (Youtube: 7653- Instagram: 12.8K)
  6. Joey Ahern (Vine: 580 K- Twitter: 13.7 k)
  7. TheyLoveArii (Youtube:380,038-  Twitter: 93.9K)

Teaming up with influencers will help charities in reaching new people and extending their network. To do so, (1) charities need to identify channels and influencers with whom their audience is highly engaged and (2) to carefully plan how they can work with the influencer to create a strategic partnership.

#Secret No More



Although I’m an advocate of social media, I also understand how the characteristic features can be a double edged swords. This is especially true when it comes to the phenomenon of peer pressure, as for example some studies indicate that teens who are constantly  visiting social networks might be more likely to adopt poor habits, such as smoking, drinking. This danger is amplified by the anonymity that online identities can offer.  Just two days ago, the Secret, an anonymous texting app startup officially announced they were closing their service, which its insider platform to break out news such as Ever notes acquisition. The company wasn’t short of earning but according to its CEO David Byttow “Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company”. The app was meant to create a safe space for people to spread information and safely share opinions but it came to the headlines instead for spreading unfounded news. 

A similar app “Yik Yak”, which also keeps the user identity anonymous, has been used instead in very creative and positive ways. For example, it has been recently used to educated youth on HIV by a nonprofit (What Works in Youth HIV), which  employed strategically to spread knowledge not just for HIV prevention but also to help remove the social stigma still attached to  being HIV positive. Another positive case of the use of Yik Yak  was its role in preventing suicide attempts at colleges . There is a clear potential for these kind of apps to reach out youth and be used for the social good, however, just as equally there is a potential for offering powerful outlets to a darker side of our society, where lying, cyberbullying, harassments can be dangerously empowered. This leads to hard questions in regards to the cost-benefit balance for these new technologies, where a a bigger moral responsibilities is placed on the user, compared to traditional media.


A cause related campaign from Chevrolet has just kicked in. It’s not a random act of kindness without reward, it’s a planned marketing campaign to appeal to the conscious    consumer. It’s a partnership mutually beneficial, Chevrolet will attract  different consumers and One World Play Project will  earn visibility.  Social media offer an unprecedented opportunity to size profitable partnerships like this for charities.

Ecuador earthquake and social media


Social media is a powerful tool in the response to humanitarian crises on many level. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Ecuador people from allover the world were able to check on family and friends in real time and be updated on the situation. Almost as immediate has been the active response in starting funding and helping campaigns.

Boaty McBoatface


I was suggesting earlier competitions can be a powerful tool to engage audience in social media. However, control of the message and understanding of the audience are always key components, as what happened recently at the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) can show. NERC’s attempt of engaging the public by adding a poll via social media to name their new boat was successfully hijacked lending now the organisation in a sticky situation: at the closing of the polls yesterday in fact “Boaty McBoatface”, a suggestion from BBC radio host James Hand, reached four times the number of votes more appropriate and sensible choices such as ‘Poppy-Mai’, named after a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer or ‘David Attenborough’. Hand has since apologised to  NERC. This is a case where social media polls and engaging the public could go wrong.

If your service were a pill!

The hearing demonstrates discrepancy between non-profits essential role in community and the recognition of such role by the community: less “sexy”, more complex, long term projects are often the ones that actually make the difference, and they make greater need for these organisations to adopt some of the for profits’ marketing tools in order to thrive.  

“The founder of a St. Louis-area nonprofit joined the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, led by Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, for a bipartisan hearing today that focused on progress in the cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Lisa Baron is the founder of Memory Care Home Solutions, which works to extend and improve time at home for individuals with dementia by providing in-home caregiving training, education and outreach programs. In her testimony, she explained that 90% of her clients are able to remain at home rather than moving to a nursing home and that this has saved the Missouri Medicaid program over $30 million.

The hearing also included David Hyde Pierce, award-winning actor, advocate, and former member of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act’s Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services.

Speaking to Baron about the valuable service her non-profit provides, McCaskill said: “If your service was a pill, you’d get approved and we would pay for it. But you’re not a pill and you don’t have big pharma lobbying for you, and you don’t have a big company marketing you. But because you’re not being marketed like we see on TV—where if we could only somehow get our doctor to give us this drug and promise we’re going to be young, and thin, and beautiful, and happy, and have sex for the rest of our lives—you are struggling to deliver a basic service.” ” quoted from SenatorMcCaskill Youtube channel.