In 1984, Bob Geldof gathered the likes of Sting, David Bowie and Paul McCartney to record Do They Know It’s Christmas?. The aim was to raise awareness and funds to help combat the famine in Ethiopia at the time. Mark Zuckerberg was six months old, Twitter was unheard of and it would be another two decades until the first YouTube video would be played. Thirty years on, Geldof has once again united world-renowned talents, this time to help fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Having already become the fastest selling single of 2014, with over 206,000 copies sold within the first 24 hours of release and over 1.9 million views on YouTube, social media has undoubtedly played an integral role in its popularity.
With a star-studded line-up sharing the news on their social pages, Band Aid 30 was a hot topic of discussion when released last Monday. Megastars One Direction, who made up one sixth of the Band Aid 30 singers, have an accumulative Twitter following of 93 million which clearly helped in getting the charity song trending across the globe. The ability to share and retweet make Facebook and Twitter great platforms to gain coverage for charitable causes, compared to the less instantaneous methods, such as print media, used when the original single was released.
The influential power of social media is extraordinary; just one look at One Direction member Louis Tomlinson’s Twitter feed shows that his tweet regarding the Band Aid single has received over 51,000 retweets to date. On the day of the single’s release, the #BandAid30 hashtag was used across an average of 31,500 tweets an hour, highlighting the anticipation surrounding the musical event.
Over the past twelve months, social media has made itself the home to a variety of charitable appeals. #ALSIceBucketChallenge, which required participants to pour ice over themselves, provided the ALS Association with a rise in over 3,000% in donations thanks to social activity. While #NoMakeUpSelfie, a trend which encouraged females to post a picture of themselves without makeup, raised over £2m and saw Cancer Research UK gain over 966,000 interactions across Facebook and Twitter. Each campaign saw participants elect and nominate individuals to take part, boosting reach and in turn, awareness. Pragmatically, increasing awareness of charitable campaigns across social media is a fast and simple way of raising money, as well as generating backing from government officials, influential individuals and celebrities. It has also undoubtedly become a trend amongst fans and followers to participate in charity events within their Timelines and Newsfeeds, which ultimately achieves the definitive aim: donations for a cause.
Based upon the immediate success of Band Aid 30, it is clear that the fourth imagining of Do They Know It’s Christmas? is already helping to provide urgent medical care and funds to assist the fight against Ebola.