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Is social media a good way to build an AIDS-free generation, raise philosophical questions, or inspire youngsters to learn and embrace more actions for positive change?

Sounds tricky, but there are projects out there that are pushing the awareness message in an unconventional way, helping the ambition to drive awareness go international.

It is not a secret that social media has been changing the way people give to causes, but especially when integrated with art and technology, it can become a powerful and unforgettable tool, helping us not to be and feel alone.

Campaigns for good causes deserve the right implementation to give a stronger voice to the subject. 

We should move away from the way of thinking that social messages are just 140 characters long and view them as a window to the entire world. This is because charitable social media campaigns with a creative angle can so easily become a way of uniting people behind good causes or meaningful contributions.   

In this post, I am going to show you examples of four social media campaigns that involve the viewers in every possible way, making them an actual part of the project.

An interactive tunnel of hope brought to life with tweets

The Benevolent Society, Australia's first charity, has given Australian citizens the chance to share and show their hope through an integrated installation combining tweets and the power of light.

This not-for-profit organization, whose aim is to help people change the lives of children through support and education, found a great way to gain attention by discussing its key role in driving positive social change in Australia.

Hundreds and Thousands installation

Photo © DillonVFX.  

The installation became a wonderful platform, which presented a visual conversation showing the hopes for the future of Australia’s children. People were invited to share 140 character long messages reflecting their hopes for the next 200 years.

To have them displayed on the Hundreds and Thousands installation, users were asked to send a message via Twitter using the tag #hopesforchange. The more ‘hope messages’ were tweeted, the greater and more dynamic the installation’s lighting effects became. 

This concept was created for Vivid Sydney 2013 as a collaboration between The Benevolent Society, creative agency Designworks and digital agency Reactive, according to whom this Tunnel of Hope was supposed to become a thought-provoking medium celebrating Australian history and everyone’s vision of the future.

It must have worked, as this interactive tunnel was lightened up with 757 meaningful messages which will always make a difference in the world.

I hope.. Tunel of Hope messages

You can see more hope messages by visiting Benevolent's 200 Years of Change.

A car fueled by social media helps demystify the power of learning

MINDDRIVE has a rather tricky task: to inspire students to learn and expand their vision of the future. It is a challenge in itself to gain the attention of those minds that live in an age full of easy-access digital distractions.

This educational non-profit program approached teaching maths and science from another angle, by making it more exciting and by adding to it a flavour from the 21st century close to young people’s hearts: social media.

This is how the idea of a car fuelled by social media was born..

It took 17 high schoolers, eight mentors from Kansas City and a 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia to create the first ever social media powered car.

The concept was to bring MINDDRIVE to life with tweets, posts, shares and likes which were monitored by an Arduino device. This open-source, single-board microcontroller triggered the vehicle’s motor based on the number of tweets and posts about the project.

The organisation spent a long time trying to convert social media into the wattage needed to make the vehicle work; for example, a follow on Twitter equaled five watts, and a like on Facebook equaled one watt. Signing an online petition was worth 10 watts, and any shares, retweets or mentions on Twitter was another three. 

Without a doubt, creating such an adventure was a difficult and very time consuming task, but the idea of combining students’ love of social media with auto shop and renewable energy made this project drive the interaction MINDDRIVE wanted to achieve.

The success was visible long before the car set off as 225,000 watts, three times what MINDDRIVE expected, was generated through tweets, hashtags on Instagram, views on Youtube, and likes on Facebook.

With enough power, the social car completed a 1,000+ mile journey from Kansas City, Mo., to Washington, D.C. But most importantly, this project created awareness through social media and gave young people the chance to gain skills by allowing them to build this electric vehicle.

Interactive exhibit built with an AIDS-free generation in mind

How could you raise more awareness about HIV among young people? Lifebeat, Music Fights AIDS, and MTV Staying Alive Foundation, created a rather interesting campaign which pushed the word in a big way with a unique social media effort - Arches of Hope - an art installation designed by Italian architect Antonio Pio Saracino and conceived by Patrick Duffy.

Arches of Hope

Photo © The Arches of Hope.

These three, 10-foot tall arches, which represented three decades of HIV and AIDS - the past (30 million deaths), present (34 million people infected) and future (zero infections) of the disease - were brought to life with Twitter messages that were displayed by LED ticker tape embedded in the installation.

Twitter users were encouraged to tweet messages tagged with #archesofhope. These messages were dedicated to support more than 2,600 people aged 16 to 24 that are infected with HIV every day around the world.

New York City citizens were able to view the tweets and names of their senders in the lights of a Times Square Billboard (and on 12 other social media sites).

The organisers of the campaign understood not only their social savy audience but also the power of social media, which was integrated so well.

So far, most of Lifebeat’s campaigns were utilizing music celebrities, but on this occasion the company decided to adapt to trends and follow habits to reach their audience in the best possible way.

Lifebeat president Gary Dell'Abate:

We have to continue to grow and adapt to get our message out to the youth the best way we can, and social media would be it. This is where we're at, it's all about social media," said Lifebeat president Gary Dell'Abate.

The combination of art, interactivity, and real time social media made this cause not only become memorable but also made it become a real call to action to support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day and the need to create an AIDS-free generation. 

Beijing landmark becomes a point of reflection

Living in the digital age may be difficult for some countries, whose history is closely connected with philosophy. We often forget how our lives have changed due to the progress and advancements of technology.

The growing bridge between man and nature caused by contemporary culture and technology, provided a topic of reflection to create a very special installation. Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube converted the Beijing National Aquatics Center into a fantastic landmark that is a first of its kind.

A team of technology and programming experts, colour specialists, feng shui masters, lighting designer Zheng Jianwei and artist Jennifer Wen Ma, converted the building into a stunning light sculpture, which united social media with the ancient Chinese texts, I Ching

Beijing National Aquatics Center

Photo © HopeHill.

A special system translated content from the ancient I Ching teachings with emotions expressed by Chinese people on social media into expressions of light. It was all possible thanks to a computer program which collected emotional data from chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

Millions of user’s emoticons were translated into a real-time light display on the building's exterior which changed depending of people’s feelings. The emotions were converted by a visual program language, vvvv, which coded the data from Weibo into patterns of different themes like fire, water, wind, earth, and thunder.

As emotions changed, so did the building and its colour, tone and movement. For example, if a day was classed as heaven, it would be represented by an expanding and contracting circle.

This rather fascinating challenge of technology is proof of Chinese progress and a leap towards a better future. Before, Beijing’s Water Cube was best known for Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals wins, but thanks to this real time installation it also has become known as a mood ring powered by social media. 


Do you think we may see more examples like these ones, which try to combine technology and art to make a message stand out? Is this innovative approach making you want to become a part of it and join the purpose?

Kasia Piekut

Published 13 August, 2013 by Kasia Piekut

Kasia Piekut is Social Media Specialist at White.net and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Kasia on Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn or Instagram

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