The devastating earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor breach that happened last week in Japan is the kind of make-it-or-break-it moments for humanity, one which either restores one’s faith in the human race or utterly disappoints. Since the quake happened during the inaugural weekend of South by Southwest Interactive, a spotlight has been pointed to social media and how it reacts during a crisis. Aside from a few tasteless yet expected Tweets, social media users and marketers from around the globe – including those attending SXSWi – have risen to the occasion.
CNN interviewed Tak Miyata, the executive director of Mixi in Japan, who was attending SXSWi. Mixi, like the name suggests, is a mixture of the best features of other social media sites. Mixi focuses on community entertainment, meaning meeting and networking with people who have similar interests. So when it came time to help out Japan, Mixi relied heavily on its community. The extremely active social network proved its power when more than $1.5 million was raised a mere two days after the disaster. Mixi offered an easy pledge option for its members on the login page.
SXSW4Japan.org is exactly what the name implies. The community of tech and social media professionals (along with the American Red Cross) hopped into action right at the festival, responding to the quake with lightning speed. Being called “real time fundraising,” SXSW4Japan is utilizing the thousands of people currently visiting Austin, Texas for the festival and their love of social media. In just a matter of days, the campaign has raised $48,759 and climbing. Through text and online donations, Twitter hashtags like #sxswcares and #sxsw4japan, plus instructions on how to start your own DIY fundraising pages, the instant fundraising machine looks at smashing its $50,000 donation goal in a matter of days.
While we all like to make fun of the ridiculousness of social media, there’s no doubt of how effective it can be when it uses its powers for good.