It’s been amazing to watch David Walliams swim the Thames in aid of international charity sports relief. As much as his physical feat has been awe-inspiring, it’s also been incredible to see how people have used social to connect, follow his progress and ultimately raise money for the cause.
Whether it has been following his progress on twitter via a hashtag, leaving words of encouragement on Facebook or donating via a dedicated page, people felt a part of it much more than watching from the side-lines on TV.
Listening to the post event interviews, Walliams has commented on how surprised he was by the number of people who turned out on the river banks, swam in the river, partied in riverside houses and gave their support, as well as the speed at which they gave money, and the amounts at which they gave.
It is another real example of the reach and power of the social channels to mobilise people behind a cause that they want to be a part of. Nobody formally tells people where to be or when, they tell each other and the crowd gets swept up and joins in. Because people have access, they can take part.
This is my video of my day on the river cheering on David Walliams:
David’s epic swim has done a number of things
Looking at the things he has had to overcome (aside from a very long swim.)
- The aches and pains of swimming from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to the edge of London
- Battled diarrhoea, vomiting and low energy levels from “Thames tummy”.
- Struggled with a painful rash where his wetsuit has rubbed his neck
- Rescued a dog – Cookham Lock in Berkshire
- Walliams’s wife, model Lara Stone, had to be from a support boat which became stuck due to the movement of the tide yesterday. She had to be picked up by a boat operated by challenge sponsor BT .
Walliam’s finished the epic swim at Westminster Bridge yesterday and so far has raised over £1 million. He has also made a lot of people smile in difficult times.
Walliams, 40, said of the support he has received: “I never expected this to catch the public’s imagination like it has – there seems to have been a real carnival atmosphere around. It which is lovely.”
What’s he done ?
David Walliams has done a lot:
He’s raised over £1 million for Sport Relief. He anticipated raising £200k!
He’s created a fantastic buzz and united people in his efforts by giving them something to take part in. Everyone taking part in the streams, sharing his news, progress and updates or adding words of support, had an opportunity to touch and share in his awesomeness. Everything had all the component parts of a real “community” where those involved could contribute by donating their own reach and networks to the cause.
With a very simple call to action, asking people to donate to the cause, there’s a simple end result. The message gets spread and people feel inspired to give. People gave because they got the message, shared in the exploit and most importantly, had a very easy way of doing so. All social needs a simple call to action.
On my part, I’m humbled to have witnessed part of David’s epic swim and to have cheered him on, hung out of a tree paparazzi style to take pictures, and paddled alongside him in a kayak. It’s been a lot of fun, and great to be a part of this community.
Walliams made the effort and a great effort that was, and the people, enabled by social took it to a whole new dimension.
(Oh: and Walliams klout went from 36 – 53 over the last week!)
You can find out about Sports Relief and donate HERE