This past Sunday night millions of viewers tuned into watch MTV’s Video Music Awards. They watched award acceptance as well as breathtaking performances (cough cough Beyoncé, see above photo for example of her awesomeness). Social media connected viewers so now you don’t just watch an awards so, you participate. You’re in an active conversation with you friends, and sometimes the celebrities themselves, via social media outlets. One of the most popular sites is Twitter because of users ability to post repeated short opinions. This year users connected their VMA conversations by including the hashtag #VMA14. More than 800,000 tweets featured this hashtag on Sunday.
One of the most talked about awards was that for Best Music Video. This years winner was Miley Cyrus for her hit single “Wrecking Ball.” Fans were surprised when instead of the pop princess there was a young nobody at the microphone. This was Jesse Helt (pictured with Cyrus above), a homeless man living in Los Angeles. He continued to explain that he was accepting the award for Cyrus and “1.6 runaways and homeless youth in the United States” (Barnes). Helt then invited viewers to donate to an Organization called My Friend’s Place, a Los Angeles based company that helps young homeless find shelter, healthcare, and schooling. Links to this campaign were then shared on all of Cyrus’ social media platforms.
This sparked massive conversation. Her video post on Facebook post gained over 450,000 likes and nearly 20,000 comments. Her first tweet with a link for donation had over 24,000 retweets and 38,000 favorites. Following her lead, many other celebrities including, Ariana Grande, Cara Delevingne, Britney Spears, and Big Sean. These tweets, in turn, also got thousands of retweets. My Friends Place reported Monday that Cyrus’ act raised over $200,000 in just one day. Cyrus used her name to substantially boost the awareness of My Friend’s Place. She used her fame to market the brand, sending everyone to her social media accounts as a means for donations. Now not only has the organization gained thousands of dollars, but their brand has gained invaluable awareness from a very large audience.