Social Media for Social Good, Part Three: The World Malaria Day Campaign

For the past two weeks, I've looked at ways in which different social media platforms have been utilized to "do good." I've examined blogs and Twitter, and I've tried to argue that the networks created by social media can provide a powerful means to share facts, share stories, build coalitions, and engage people.

Rather than examine a specific social media platform today, I want to turn to look at a social media campaign and examine the ways in which a multitude of resources and networks were harnessed for social good.

April 25 was World Malaria Day. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership, comprised of a number of governments, international organizations, companies, academic and research institutions, and NGOs, called for the World Malaria Day to help bring attention to what those in the fight against malaria call "a critical moment in time."

Malaria kills almost one million people per year and afflicts as many as half a billion people in 109 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The RBM Partnership estimates it will take about 200 million of doses of effective treatment, the indoor spraying for around 200 million homes annually, and approximately 1.5 billion diagnostic tests annually to meet the UN's 2010 targets for delivering protection and treatment to all those at risk of malaria

The international community has less than a year to meet the UN target dates, and so various social media campaigns were organized to help draw attention to the programs seeking to combat the disease. Here are some of their tactics:

Text Messaging: Fundraising efforts for many recent disaster relief campaigns have demonstrated how successful text-messaging can be. On World Malaria Day, people could send a text message to a number that would result in a $10 donation (and show up on their next phone bill).

Twitter: Hashtags are used in Twitter to track topics. On April 25, all tweets with the hashtag "#endmalaria” auto-generated a mosquito icon, helping to visualize the message.

Photo Sharing: The photo-sharing site Daily Booth also used the hashtag to mark photos that were taken to draw awareness to malaria. The words "end malaria" were written on people's hands and the photos were uploaded to the Daily Booth site. Once tagged, these photos would show up in friends' photostreams, identified as being part of the World Malaria Day campaign.

Website: Although there are many pressures to try the newest Web 2.0 tools, a good website remains important. World Malaria Day 2010 has a website (http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/worldmalariaday/) that contains links to all the key policy documents, statistical and historical details, and contact information.

World Malaria Day demonstrates some innovative uses of social media. Hopefully the awareness will help move the world toward the goal of worldwide malaria protection by 2010 and zero malaria deaths by 2015, and the eventual elimination of the disease.