One of the great powers of social media is that it offers a direct way for people (most of them strangers to each other) to connect. For instance, instead of waiting for the news to come out, people create, share, and spread the news on Twitter.

Crowdfunding is similar except with money, often helping people to fund anything from new business ventures to personal projects. Thom Finney decided to test the limits of crowdfunding when he set up an initiative to raise €1.6B to cover the Greek bailout. As he explains, “I wondered, could the people of Europe have a crack at fixing this? Less talk, more direct action.”

Of course, social media, traditional news outlets, and platforms like crowdfunding don’t operate in a vacuum. They play off each other. As Finney explains, “Nobody was that interested at first, but after a couple of small stories on the internet, the idea seemed to explode overnight. I woke up to 1,200 emails and it got even more crazy from there.”

Media Monitoring: Exploring the Greek Bailout

Here at Meltwater, we decided that this convergence of social media, traditional media, and crowdfunding was a good excuse to take our new word cloud widget out for a spin. Still in beta, it’s called Momentum. Along with doing what word clouds usually do—which is to show trending topics around a particular key word—Momentum also shows which trending topics are new, which ones are growing, which ones are shrinking, and which ones are no longer relevant.

So we looked at the phrase “Greek bailout” on traditional media and on social media.

Greek Bailout in the News
“Greek bailout” on traditional media (June 28-June 30, 2015)
Greek Bailout on Social
“Greek bailout” on social media (June 28-June 30, 2015)

As we can see, the discussion on traditional media surrounds politics with a focus on negotiations and referendums, with no mention of the crowdfunding initiative. On the social media word cloud, we see that crowdfunding is making waves with the initiative’s crowdfunding platform (Indiegogo) making an appearance as well as other related key words. “Referendum”, “extension,” “and finance” have faded away on social.

Are social media participants simply gaping momentarily at a novel phenomenon, or will the initiative take hold as a serious political gesture? With close to €1 million Euros already committed, Finney and his project’s 56,000+ contributors still have a long way to go. But here’s to the power of social media to ignite fires and get people not only talking, but taking action too.