This is a guest post by Muhammad Saleem, a social media consultant and a top-ranked community member on multiple social news sites.
Many people argue that the social web is actually destroying offline relationships and that relationships built through online social networking sites are nothing more than “superficial acquaintances.” For brothers Hank and John, however, Brotherhood 2.0 has not only strengthened their bond but it has also allowed them to affect the lives of thousands of other less fortunate people through their “Nerdfighter Power Project for Awesome.”
Hank, who is an environmentalist and the chief geek at EcoGeek, and John, who writes for young adults and is the author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katharines, and the upcoming Paper Towns (September 2008), decided that they were going to go 365 days with only textless communication (which means no email, no instant messaging, no texting, but very infrequent phone calls for logistical purposes) by using their video blog, Brotherhood 2.0, and posting videos back and forth. 11 months and 18 days into their experience, they launched their “Project for Awesome.”
We have more to talk about, we know more about eachother. We laugh about our past and share current successes. It’s a very unique online relationship, but it’s been a very powerful and exciting one.
Opening YouTube’s Most Discussed Videos page today, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the “secret project” had taken over not only the top 5 spots for the most discussed videos, but as I scrolled through the subsequent 5 pages, the project had effectively taken over most of YouTube.
To help shed some light on the project and how the Nerdfighters took over the 4th most popular destination on the web and the number one site for video hosting and sharing, I had a chat with Hank, one of the orchestrators of the coup.
Hank, could you begin by telling us more about the Nerdfighter Power Project for Awesome?
The Nerdfighter Power Project for Awesome was an attempt to take over the most discussed page of YouTube with videos that all had the same thumbnail image. Each of the videos promotes a different, worthy charity. It worked.
Before I ask you how you pulled this off, can you tell us which charities were promoted as a result of this?
There were more than 400 videos posted, but several people focused on humanitarian organizations in Darfur, UNICEF, Autism Speaks, The Humane Society, Toys for Tots, World Wildlife Fund, I’m proud to say that it’s a very long list.
So, how’d you guys pull off this crazy stunt?
The project itself was the result of one crazy idea and a lot of planning. John said to me one day, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the thumbnail for every video on the most discussed page of YouTube was the same image,” and I agreed that that would, indeed, be cool. The most discussed page is one of the central ways for finding what’s happening on YT, and PopURLs pulls from it for it’s YouTube section. So, after a lot of discussion with people who are really involved in the YouTube community, and who know how this kind of thing works, we came up with a plan.
We messaged a bunch of high-profile YouTubers that we know (people who’s videos regularly get more than 1M views per week), and we asked them if they wanted to be involved in a project that was designed to reduce “world suck” and we got a lot of interested replies. So we then took the idea to our audience and asked folks to sign up for a mailing list if they wanted to be involved in a “secret project.” About 4,000 people signed up in the first week. We then designed a thumbnail graphic (thanks to FallofAutumnDistro for that) and distributed it to the top YouTubers and to our fans and asked everyone to spotlight a charity that they believe in because, y’know, it’s Christmas, and one of the central themes of Brotherhood 2.0 has always been “reducing world suck.” We asked everyone to upload their video exactly at 12 noon EST, and they did, even in Australia, where it was like 4 am!
Then we sent out messages to those 4,000 nerdfighters asking them to comment, rate and favorite the videos that were exceptional. And, in less than 24 hours we’d taken over the whole page.
That’s great, because it’s all for many good causes. I know it’s a little early to tell, but if you can tell us, what effect has this project had on Brotherhood 2.0, and how successful do you think it is (or will be) in spreading awareness about and actually leading to results for the charities that the videos promote?
As far as Brotherhood 2.0 is concerned, our YouTube subscribers have gone from 11,000 to 12,000, which is a big jump for one day. Furthermore, the video that we made is now our second most viewed video ever with 90,000 views. As for the charities, I’ve received several messages from people saying that they have given to charities profiled. But I imagine I’m not getting an email from every single person who donates. There’s no reporting mechanism, but anecdotal evidence is promising.
There you have it. It’s Christmas time and the Nerdfighters are doing their part to help the less fortunate. Join the Nerdfighters at Brotherhood 2.0 and spread the love.