What if you had to go an entire month without talking and could only use social networking tools for communication. Would you be able to do it?
Meet Clark Harris (aka Silent Clark). For the entire month of May he has gone without speaking a word in order to raise funds and create awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The project is called The Social Media Experiment and it has earned press through ABCnews, Mashable, and Technorati. The rules: talking, email, text messaging, and sign language are prohibited. Tweeting, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Chat are the only forms of communication allowed. I recently hooked up with Silent Clark via Facebook to ask him questions about Wordpess, making a project go viral, and more.
You’ve asked the question is it more effective to raise money for a good cause by reaching out to others online as opposed to traditional methods. Already over halfway through your month of silence, do you feel that raising funds online has been the best choice? Why or why not?
Yes, I feel strongly about this. I continue to reach more and more people and strangers have donated. When I tried to raise funds before it was only people I knew directly who donated.
On your blog you have a section where people can challenge you to perform certain tasks. One of the challenges ask you to use social media to meet someone you don’t know for coffee and another wants you to go through a Taco Bell drive thru and order 5 Taco Supremes. All of this is done without email, talking, or sign language. Have you performed these tasks?
I am starting to cross them off the list. I met someone for lunch yesterday that I had never known before and we actually remained quiet the whole time. The drive thru one could be difficult, but I’m willing to give anything a try.
Would you say that your campaign has gone viral? Have you received more or less attention then you expected?
Yes, it has gone viral. I’ve reached several countries around the world and have gotten Followers on Twitter and Fans on Facebook. I had hoped the numbers all around would have been slightly higher, but the month is not over. ;-x
You’ve used WordPress for your blog/website. Was this an easy choice? Why WordPress?
I started with BlogSpot, but it lacked the ability to customize it for my needs. One of the developers in my company knew a lot about WordPress and was able to set it up for me very easily. The Thesis Theme from DIYthemes is awesome!
Before May 1st, did you do any activities online or offline to help promote the social media experiment? How did you get the word out?
I talked to the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society marketing director and told him my plans, but other than that very little was said prior to starting.
I noticed on your blog that you posted insights into how the social media experiment period has led to challenges in communicating with your wife. You also mentioned that you had a difficult engagement period before you were married. The reason I bring this up, is because I want to ask what your thoughts were on being fully transparent online and through blogging. What do you say to the people who believe that the social web has taken a lot of privacy out of our lives?
I think that is the nature of the beast. If you are seriously worried about privacy, I would avoid social media because you will never be able to take full advantage of it. It’s moving towards more and more transparency, so it will mirror the public forum. If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.
You tweet a lot. I imagine I would also if I couldn’t speak to others using my voice. You mentioned that Twitter is great for using the search feature to find important information, but also mentioned that being on twitter can be a waste of time. How do you recommend others maximize their efforts on twitter?
Stick to using it to share information about your passions or about fields where you want to succeed. How you spend your free time is your choice, but when working you want to make sure and get the most out of your hours and its easy to get distracted when interacting in live conversations.
Do you have any planned activities after the experiment is over? Will you continue to blog and use social networking services?
Yes, I have been inspired to continue this endeavor by starting a non-profit called Silence Cancer where I will use the latest trends in social media to try and gain awareness and use creative fundraisers to raise money. We will continue to roll out more social media experiments after this is over.
If others wanted to follow in your footsteps and harness an online community of supporters for a good cause, what advice would you give them. How can others use the social web for social good?
Jump in, get started. There are a lot of people who will join your cause if it is a good one. Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results for the first few weeks. It takes time and will slowly grow.
Through the month of May Silent Clark has raised nearly $5,000 for a great cause! There is still time to help him in his mission. Click here to learn how you can make a differance.