In 2007, brothers Hank and John Green embarked on a project : spend one year communicating in a non-textual manner. All communication was to occur face-to-face, through telephone, but primarily, through back and forth video blogs posted on Youtube. After their one year experiment finished, they found that their videos had sparked the creation of a community, and they continued to regularly upload videos.
This unique blog that talked about anything and everything – day to day life, political issues and opinions – started to quickly spread and gain attention. In early 2013, their channel ‘vlogbrothers’ had over one million subscribers. Today, they have over seven million.
Social media allowed these brothers to connect with each other in a way different than they had before; their four minute videos about their jobs, their opinions, their entertainment and whatever they found fascinating that day started to create a community consisting of more than the two of them. Expanding from youtube, the Vlogbrothers used twitter, tumblr, the ning, and other applications to allow their community – dubbed ‘Nerdifghters’ – to connect with the brothers and each other.
The social media connections sparked by this video blog project have now created a much larger community that connects back to ‘the real world’. Hank Green created Vidcon, a huge conference starring Youtube personalities and groups such as Grace Helbig (a Youtuber with over a million followers), and Harry and the Potters ( a wizard rock band).
Hank and John worked together to create The Project for Awesome, a fundraising event for the Project to Decrease Worldsuck – the charity they founded. This unique project allowed anyone to create and submit a video promoting a cause or charity they believed in – videos are viewed, and voted on. Raising over $800,000 in 2013, the P4A used social media to allow their community to choose what causes and charities to fund with that money.
Social media is a community builder, and allows connections to be made worldwide. It can also allow one person using the right tools to create a movement and change the world beyond their computer screen.