What do Facebook likes and shares, Twitter retweets, Google +1s, and YouTube views measure exactly? Do they measure the ever-increasing number of Directioners in the pre-teen and teen female demographic who will flail every time a boy from One Direction breathes? Do they measure how many Americans and non-Americans watch the presidential debate and laugh? Do they measure the amount of friends, followers, and viewers who actually agree or relate to what a person says online? It seems the answer to the initial question, like so many other answers to questions, depends.
For Kevin Love, power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA, Facebook likes and shares, Twitter retweets, Google +1s, and YouTube views measure one thing for the remainder of October: the amount of money exiting his bank account.
Love uploaded a video on YouTube on Oct. 24, 2012 of Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota native and wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, giving him a haircut. Thanks to the efforts by Fitzgerald, Kevin Love at just 24-years-old has lost all of the hair on his head.
Okay so if you didn’t watch the above video or read its title, you may be wondering, “Right so, why exactly did Love allow Fitzgerald to do this?” At least read the man’s tweet:
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) October 24, 2012
Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Love and Fitzgerald teamed up to show their support and spread awareness. They uploaded the video on Kevin Love’s YouTube channel, then tweeted, posted, and shared the video many times, while encouraging fans to do the same. According to Love’s website, for each retweet, Facebook like or share, Google +1, and YouTube view, the Minnesota boys have pledged to donate 25 cents up to $250,000 to the organizations Bright Pink and the American Cancer Society/Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center.
It is obvious enough that Love and Fitzgerald are utilizing new media to help out a worthy cause, but allow me to break it down a little. First, they filmed the haircut. Second, Love uploaded the video onto YouTube, a website through which it can be seen worldwide–much more effective than a local news station in Minnesota. If Love and Fitzgerald stopped right there, this video would have been enough of a new media and NBA overlap for me to write a blog post about. However, they encouraged their Twitter followers (Love with a little over 460,000 and Fitzgerald with a little over 1.4 million) to retweet and their Facebook fans (Love with roughly 238,000 and Fitzgerald with around 639,000) to like or share. In addition, they tweeted at some more world-renowned public figures to help spread the word, or better yet, Spread Love, also the name of Kevin Love’s cleverly titled community outreach program. Kim Kardashian is helping Spread Love, too. She linked to the haircut video on her Twitter account, which is followed by more than 16.4 million people.
Love has no doubt that new media in general and social media in specific can help make big changes. He is using it to #SpreadLove around the world and increase awareness for a cause that is very near and dear to his heart as well as his buddy Fitzgerald’s. On his website, Love shares that his friend Betty Goldie was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in 2012, and Fitzgerald’s mother passed away in 2003.
All the Facebook likes and shares, Twitter retweets, Google +1s, and YouTube views measure a little more than just the dollars Kevin Love and Larry Fitzgerald are going to be donating at the end of this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They represent the people who took the time–albeit a couple seconds–to care. With just one or two clicks, those followers and fans helped spread a little love and a lot of awareness with their NBA and NFL stars leading the way.