One of the keys to social-media success is acknowledging that an organization can’t control its message.
Water.org has decided to push that notion to the extreme.
The nonprofit—which was started by the actor Matt Damon to raise money for water sanitation in developing countries—is playing host to an online contest in which it will cede control of its official Twitter account for one week to one of its most ardent supporters.
The contest, which runs through August 31, is open to any person or organization in the United States with a Twitter account. The winner, who will be chosen via a vote by the charity’s followers, will then have the keys to its @water Twitter account—and its more than 430,000 followers.
Mike McCammon, chief community officer at Water.org, says he hopes the winner will be an individual with strong ties to his organization and its cause.
What’s more, the contest is designed to give a big platform to someone who doesn’t have the name recognition of a celebrity.
“Why don’t the people have a voice on Twitter?” Mr. McCammon says. “Why can’t the customer speak for [the organizations on Twitter]?”
The person or group that does win will not necessarily have complete editorial control; Water.org’s first priority is still to “protect the brand,” says Mr. McCammon.
Still, he says, he doesn’t expect he will need to edit the posts from its guest Tweeter as long as the guest stays on the water topic.
While Mr. McCammon understands that he’s taking a risk, he hopes that the effort will lead to bigger conversations about the nature of open communication online.
“I’ve learned that no one has done this before, which is making me feel scared,” he says. ”All these things we’ve talked about with transparency and users in control, openness: What does that say? Was it a big lie?”
What do you think of Water.org’s approach? Will giving up control of its Twitter account help or hurt its credibility? Post a comment to share your thoughts.