Good Will Goes Viral Through Social For Karen The Bus Monitor

By Sheldon Levine - Thursday, June 28th, 2012 at 7:30 am  

We hear a lot about videos and marketing campaigns that “go viral” by spreading through social media, but recently a story has evolved that shows that it can also spread good will.

A little over a week ago a man saw a video posted on YouTube of a bunch of 7th graders picking on their elderly bus monitor named Karen. The video goes for 10 minutes and shows the children actually bring her to tears. The man, Max Sidorov, who had never met Karen (Karen is from New York State in the US and Max from Toronto, Ontario in Canada), saw the video and felt so badly that this could happen that he had to do something about it. So Max started out with a simple idea, to use crowd-funding site Indiegogo to raise some money to send the bullied bus monitor on a much needed vacation.

While not all crowd-funding projects catch on and actually get funded, this one grabbed the attention of the world. Using our social media monitoring and analytic tool, MAP, I found that this story was talked about almost 30,000 times in just over a week.

The story first spread through Twitter, but very quickly bloggers and online news outlets started picking up on it as well helping to spread the word. A look at our popularity graph shows that the story spread very fast on its first day in the Twitter-sphere and then got picked up by news outlets and blogs the following day.

The story of Karen started in the US and was also talked about through all channels there for the most part. However, when I looked specifically at news sources, it was interesting to see that news outlets from all over the world picked up on Max’s plan to do good for a person he had never met.

The sentiment around Karen’s story and Max’s plan to help her comes out looking negative, but only because of all the talk of the terrible things the kids on her bus were doing to her. A look at our buzzgraph helps to show that being bullied was all over the center of this story. However, we can also see that there was a lot of talk of the outpour of people wanting to donate money to Max’s idea of sending her on a vacation, which adds the 11% of positive sentiment.

While the sentiment of the conversation around this story looks negative, there actually is quite a positive ending to Karen’s story. When Max decided to raise money for Karen’s vacation he thought that $5,000 should be enough to send her somewhere nice. However, Max didn’t anticipate this story to touch so many people and inspire them to do something good and spread the word. At the time of writing this, Max’s Indiegogo campaign has raised $664,225. That’s over 130 times the initial goal.

Something about this story really touched people, and the idea to help do something good for someone who deserved it after being treated badly for no reason caught on. While the story was only mentioned about 30,000 times in the social space, it reached a lot more. On Twitter alone, the potential reach for the story shows that 67.1 million people could have seen the story. This has so far attracted over 30,500 donors to help contribute this $664,000. As well, yesterday Karen got to meet her mysterious benefactor, Max, after she invited him down to Greece, NY.

This story really shows that funny videos and the deaths of famous people aren’t the only thing that can spread through social media. The good will of people can also be spread and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these stories start popping up soon.

I will warn you that the video of the kids picking on Karen is kind of hard to watch, but see the “Lets Give Karen -The bus monitor- H Klein A Vacation!” Indiegogo page that Max created by following this link.

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