Australia has seen its fair share of natural disasters, from fires and floods to cyclones. Almost every part of the country has been impacted somehow. During these tough times we see Aussies rally together to support each other, through donations, volunteering or just lending a hand to a mate.
But with these recent bushfires, it felt like something was different.
Social media has risen over the years to be the most powerful, influential tool in the world. And in this most recent crisis, it’s interesting to see just how powerful the role of social media became.
From unbelievable amounts of money raised through Facebook, to heartbreaking photos of our Australian wildlife suffering and natural habitats being destroyed shared across all social platforms, the expansive influence of social media allowed everyone around the world to truly see the devasting impact these bushfires caused.
Comedian and influencer Celeste Barber raised over $50 million for bushfire relief, all started by, and mainly driven by, the power of social media. She was not expecting to raise that much, it all began with a modest $30,000 target, but her global reach, and the saturation of the story across all media outlets in nearly every country, meant people everywhere wanted to donate.
Celeste broke the record for the largest amount of money ever raised on Facebook, and is the second highest donor to the relief effort behind Andrew and Nicola Forrest (at $70 million).
I think it’s safe to say that social media played a strong role in encouraging people to donate right across the world. If we look back 10 years to the Black Saturday bushfires, Facebook and Instagram just didn’t have the following they have today. We weren’t as connected, we weren’t able to share, post, film, live stream as easily as we can now, it’s all at our fingertips.
For Celeste in particular, I think it was her raw honesty, down to earth approach, and the fact that her extended family were right in the thick of the bushfire in Eden, NSW, that really made people connect with her and the wider crisis at hand.
That’s the power of social media, you can tell authentic stories and engage with audiences right across the world and contribute to a great cause. In this case, it worked beyond anyone’s expectations.