From the billions of images flashing on our screens, the world’s gaze has been transfixed on Australia’s current battle with massive bushfires engulfing the country’s rural towns and forests. And just as our attention to the raging flames are inescapable, it is the same for the estimated one billion animals that have perished and thousands of people who have lost their properties to the bushfires. Amid the chaos, this tragedy has fostered people to lend a hand in any way they can. 

The Untold Global Presence of Celeste Barber

people looking at a phone

Australians living on the east coast have come out in droves to contribute necessities and supplies to the affected areas in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Monetary contributions raised to aid those affected also generated huge groundswell of support across the nation. And one of the more prominent efforts is the fundraising effort led by TV personality and comedian Celeste Barber. Her Facebook donation drive has raised more than $51.2 million since it was set up on 3 Jan, making it the largest amount ever raised on the platform. Undoubtedly her celebrity profile helped propel the message in her home country.

This raises the question of how did Celeste’s Facebook fundraiser receive so much attention worldwide? Undeniably, there is a list of Aussie stars who have greater global presence than Celeste – Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman or Rebel Wilson to name a few – and her initial goal was to raise a humble $30,000. To put things into perspective, her Facebook fundraiser link garnered 1.1 million direct shares since its launch and has collected donations from more than 1.3 million unique contributors. This remarkable feat highlighted the powers of community-sourced marketing and fundraising. 

The Snowballing Impact of Influencers During Times of Need

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Meltwater’s Social Influencer tool reveals that Celeste is the most active on Twitter. However, based on her True Audience Reach (TAR) – an aggregated measurement of predicted real views to a singular post by the influencer – Celeste’s posts with the highest audience reach came from Instagram. This reiterates Instagram’s importance in implementing an integral and effective marketing campaign. Another figure to note is Celeste’s TAR of 1.355 million across all social channels. This is significant as her emotionally-charged posts will drive the message across these channels which ultimately led to the almost exact number of donors who contributed to the campaign.

A demographic breakdown also shows interesting insights into Celeste’s Instagram TAR.

Meltwater’s Social Influencer platform

The most significant one is that most of her audience originated from the United States. This could be a defining factor in amplifying the message across the Pacific and boosting the donation funds. Other demographic facts showed that women and users in the age range of 25-34 years old made up the majority of her TAR. These users also had travelling as their main interest. This reflects Celeste’s influence on young, socially-aware women on both sides of the Pacific who wanted to do their part to help Australians in need.

Another contributing factor is Celeste’s network of reputable influencers in the industry. Pop stars such as Dua Lipa greatly contributed to the cause through her fundraiser while at the same time sending the message out to her respective influencer networks as well as to their massive fanbases. Having reputable media establishments such as the BBC cover the story, which included reporting on the contributions of pop icon P!nk and acclaimed Hollywood actress and arguably Australia’s biggest star Nicole Kidman, further amplified that message.

However, like any high-profile movement, especially one that involves funding from the public, concerns have been raised over the record-breaking collection of donations and its disbursement. Due to the unforeseen overwhelming response, Celeste was caught unaware with the media attention she received. Pressure from the public transformed her initial call to help out the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Brigades into one that encompassed everyone who suffered from the bushfires. PayPal, the registered company in charge of disbursing the funds to beneficiaries, even had to announce that they would fast-track the processes to aid those caught in the crisis.

Transforming the Rural Communities By Buying From The Bush

locally produced goods

Barring an administrative hiccup clouding a commendable effort by Celeste, other movements on social media also gained momentum to help out the rural communities affected by the bushfires. The Instagram movement ‘Buy From The Bush’, started by rural NSW resident Grace Brennan in October 2019 to help her fellow farmers affected by the prolonged drought season, received more attention during the bushfire crisis. The fires emphasised the dire need of help needed to rebuild and boost the industries in the rural industries of Australia. 

Rallying the nation to make purchases straight from the industries in the rural areas shows an innovative and noble way to utilise social media. Her efforts culminated when she was given the honour of delivering this year’s Australia Day address urging everyone to band together and highlighted this call when she says: “At a time when much is made of the divide between city and country, between the left and right, between big business and small business, the strength of a united community (albeit an online community) has achieved real change.”

Notable Australians such as tennis star Nick Kyrgios and English Premier League stalwarts Andrew Mooy and Matty Ryan are also employing novel ways to give back to the areas affected by the bushfires. Kyrgios is donating $200 for every ace he makes in the Australian Open while the soccer pair are contributing through saves and goals. With the huge audience following both sports, these Australians could expand the markets for Buy From The Bush to a global stage. Ultimately, echoing Grace’s words, real change can be delivered to the rural communities directly from the citizens of social media built by Australian stars.

A Nation That Looks out for One Another

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As Grace said, the people of Australia want to help each other. Australia is a nation that loves to give. By using social media, influencers play an important role in reaching out to the diverse range of audiences. By knowing this strategic importance, influencers can garner the power of the community to make an extraordinary impact. This positivity must be heard and amplified through the masses. Meltwater wanted to focus on this positivity behind the bushfire crisis because the human spirit is one defining value that can never be razed to the ground.

social influencers tool Meltwater