Digital Death; Reality Check

Your favourite celebrities died.  But don’t worry, it only happened online. And no one really seemed to care, anyways.

Kim Kardashian's Virtual Funeral

Was the Digital Death campaign the worst social media marketing plan — ever?

Designed to benefit Keep a Child Alive, the campaign rendered “prolific” celebrity Tweeters silent on Dec. 1, 2010 – World Aids Day.  Those who wanted to bring their favourite celebrities back to life on Twitter and Facebook were urged to donate to the cause.  When the $1 million goal was reached, the celebrities such as Khloe and Kim Kardashian would be free to tweet about their breakfasts once again.

I can’t help but notice that this campaign has failed to whip the celebrities’ Twitter-faithful into a frenzy. Although Twitter appears to be the go-to medium for premature death announcements (see: Gordon Lightfoot, Bill Cosby, et al), this campaign was unable to spark the same level of concern.

Anyone who uses social media is aware that to reap the benefits of the medium you must engage. By taking away that key aspect of social media, this campaign fails to motivate. Based on Usher’s resurrection on Sunday night, even the celebrities seem to have trouble committing to the cause. Perhaps the campaign forced them to confront their own self-worth in the online world and it wasn’t pleasant.

This campaign teaches us a valuable lesson in digital strategy – if you want a message to resonate, it has to constantly be on the radar. Silence on social media really is a death sentence. The only PR success here was for Kinray, the company behind the generous donation that ended the campaign!

Let this campaign serve as a reality check for social media strategists and celebrities alike – if you’re not creating content, you won’t have an impact.