Twestival Victoria : “Tweet, Meet, Give”

Twestival Victoria takes place on March 25th, as a fundraiser for Concern Worldwide. Last year the event raised $5000 in the name of charity, and hopes to build on that number this year.

“Twestival is a global Twitter fundraising festival with the motto ‘Tweet, Meet, Give’”, explains Janis La Couvée.

Janis helped bring Twestival local to Victoria in Septmeber 2009. She is a long-time social relations volunteer (early 90’s), and is witnessing firsthand the effects of Social Media.

“In my immediate neighborhood, I sit on an organizing committee for a local community event. We meet all year to produce a one day event. The same sized committe was able to plan and execute Twestival Victoria in just six weeks.”

“As a city, we came in second in fundraising, just behind Toronto who had over four times the number of participants.”

Victoria is an example of Social Media done right. The community is unique because of it’s ability to translate online communication into face-to-face relationships.

This past week, the relationships Janis has built both online and off were able to once again benefit a worthy cause.

“Just this past week I decided to shave my head in support of Babes Go Bare for cancer, if I could raise $1000. And it happened! I’ve shaved my head twice before and NEVER raised $1000. The BC Cancer Agency will now benefit from my influence.”

It’s stories such as Janice’s that magnify the beauty of Social Media. She has an active network of individuals at her fingertips that can both read and share her messages.

“I love the possibility of increased connection, the ability to network with people outside an immediate geographical location (like a neighborhood), while at the same time still doing all the grass roots community building that is necessary to build capacity on the ground.”

It’s individuals like Janice that make communities such as Victoria’s click. It’s always been this way, and always will be. It just so happens that the means for communication are improving drastically, complements of technology.

Victoria’s success is largely a team effort. Organizations and events such as Social Media Club and Wordcamp help to educate the local businesses and people. There’s also the local phenomena of Tweetups (#victoriatweetup), which frequently pop-up on a purely organic basis, that keep people connected and informed.

With the rules of Social Media as yet largely undefined, tapping into the mediums potential can be both intimidating and, as Janice explains, a lot of fun.

“To me, Social Media is a giant experiment, especially locally.”

“In the year to come, we hope to mentor the local not-for-profit community, and perhaps have more regular conversations with traditional communications and public relations professionals.”

To get involved with and learn about Social Media in Victoria there are a few resources worth noting. As mentioned, Twestival Victoria takes place March 25th, Social Media Club takes place the fourth Tuesday of each month* and Wordcamp Victoria happens May 15th. As for Twitter, the tag #yyj is as good a place to start as any.

*except for this month, to make room for Twestival