The Case (Studies) for Social Media
"We got a few hundred pictures in a couple hours after setting up the Flickr page," Sirkin says. "You really start to get a sense that there's real people out there. This is not just measuring clicks. There's a picture of that guy's kid, and he's got autism and there he is.
"The one picture that always kills me is of an 18- or 19-year-old kid, tall kid, and the caption reads, 'He hates blue, but he agreed to wear blue on Autism Awareness Day. Thanks, son.' And it's like, wow, it really is a one-to-one relationship scaled up, and you really get to feel like you know these people."
Such powerful and overwhelming response has led Autism Speaks to plan on going out to its community in the near future and asking people who contributed last year to actually help it build the campaign for next year. "We saw some of that already last year, where people were saying, 'Hey, I see that you're lighting up the Empire State Building and you're lighting up the Sears Tower or Niagra Falls. You mind if I try to get my local university or library, or can I light up my porch?' And we're like, heck yeah, that'd be great. We really have expanded the scope to include the community itself, and it's been a great success.
"At the end of the day, the power of the campaign was really the grassroots components of it where hundreds of people are sharing photos and videos and stories, and that's reverberated out months later," he adds. "It's still happening. The site still gets traffic. As we ramp that up even further, it will be interesting to see how far we can push something like that from a community standpoint."