On July 18th, South Africans and individuals around the globe celebrated the 93rd birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Since 2009, every July 18th has been dubbed Mandela Day through partnerships by The Nelson Mandela Foundation and the United Nations. To celebrate the life and legacy of Mandela, Mandela Day seeks to inspire individuals worldwide to take action in helping to change the world for the better.
The Mandela Day message is simple: Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity, so all we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time on Mandela Day, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community, to ensure that his legacy lives on forever.
For the first two years of Mandela Day, the foundation was not officially on any social media platforms. Yet with the digital space evolving so rapidly and its now-understood power to reach individuals and communities on such a global scale, this year the foundation went where the people are to spread more awareness: social media. Social media is evolving into much more than just a way to get in touch with family and friends; it has become an integral function to organizations seeking to garner increased support for forward-thinking initiatives looking to create change on a global scale. Today, more than 90% of foundation communicators, whether private or community-based, are using social media to spread awareness for their causes. Is it working?
What ‘Mandela Day’ Did
- #MandelaMondays By joining Twitter (@NelsonMandela) about two months ago, the foundation promoted #MandelaMondays to create a build-up to the actual Mandela Day. Challenging followers to turn the typical ‘manic Monday’ into something positive, #MandelaMondays aimed to inspire individuals to take just five minutes out of their Monday to do something small for others. By starting just with Mondays, the initiative aims to get people to ultimately make this act of kindness and giving a part of our everyday ethos. #MandelaMondays became a trending hashtag on Twitter, and the @NelsonMandela handle currently boasts over 30,000 followers.
- Bikers for Mandela Day The official Mandela Day site is quite comprehensive, including information about the day, photos, videos and activities that individuals can participate in. One of these activities is Bikers for Mandela Day, an event focused on spreading Mandela’s living legacy throughout South Africa. The interactive map is a great digital feature to get riders involved and see where their activity will be taken throughout the country on this inspirational ride. The page also includes up-to-date news and reflections on the ride, as well as a Twitter feed @Bikers4MandelaD.
- Official Mandela Day Facebook The foundation created an official Facebook page to further saturate the social media space in bringing more awareness to Mandela Day. Fans can post stories and photos to the wall to share their thoughts and experiences about Mandela Day, further fostering a sense of community in the online space and uniting individuals from around the world. The page also links to the Twitter handle and Mandela Day site. It currently is just shy of 11,000 fans.
Social Impact and Suggestions for Future Success
- Continue to keep users engaged Just because this year’s Mandela Day has passed doesn’t mean the social connectivity can stop now. The foundation has promised to “provide genuine information about Nelson Mandela, the Mandela Centre of Memory and the Mandela Day initiative, and we ensure that we will provide daily updates.” By continuing to stay active on Twitter and Facebook, and vowing to maintain an updated presence on YouTube andFlickr (no new content has been added to either since 2009), the foundation can stay engaged with existing supporters, build communities of new supporters and increase global awareness in real time.
- Consider mobile integration The power of mobile is spreading globally, and South Africa is not immune. South Africa has one of the largest mobile markets in the world. By taking the Mandela Day campaign mobile, the foundation can continue to harness its newly founded social media efforts while also reaching increased participants. The Grid has become a popular location-based mobile social network in South Africa, and could provide the basis for a truly successful integration into the campaign, specifically with the Bikers for Mandela Day event. Integrating a foursquare check-in into Mandela Day would also continue to move the campaign in a more forward-thinking, location-based direction.
- Continue to leverage influential partnerships This Mandela Day, SA Airways, the national carrier of the rainbow country, unveiled its first aircraft to be branded with the Nelson Mandela Day logo. SA Airways chairman Cheryl Carolous said the carrier will brand 58 of its fleet with the logo both inside and outside of aircrafts “to take the message across the entire globe to contribute to the legacy of our father, Mandela.” Through this initiative, the airline will increasingly expose its passengers to the Mandela Day message, hopefully inspiring them to take action one day at a time to make the world a better place. Though not a digital aspect, this still brings increased visibility to the organization’s mission and could prompt passengers to share it even further with family and friends. By continuing to harness partnerships such as this one, the Mandela Foundation can continue to spread its message globally and truly keep the foundation at the forefront of charitable integrated communications.