Social Media saved Ted Williams

Social Media saved Ted Williams

This week we were introduced to the instantly infamous Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice, whose very touching story became the first viral video for 2011.

The story started with a local news reporter from Columbus, Ohio, who went out to find this much-talked about man with the “god-given” voice. He took along a video camera to record the experience, which is truly nothing short of extraordinary.

Soon after hitting YouTube, the video soared to over 3 milllion views, with people sharing it on social networks in the hope of helping Ted score a job. In the video, Ted revealed his life had derailed due to drugs and alcohol, but had now been clean for 2 years.

We should take a moment to reflect how powerful social media has become: without YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, this story may have hit local rags, but these days stories like this can get international exposure overnight.

A Reddit ‘pledge’ page has been set up to help Ted out, with contributors donating money to buy him a phone, a suit, and heaps more. There are even reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA team) have sponsored him with a house and offered him a job as an announcer. It appears human generosity is alive and kicking, thanks to the immediacy of social media.

Social media gives ordinary people the opportunity to build their own brand, and perhaps in the process get national and international recognition. We tracked down two prime examples: Mama Heather of, whose website tracks the journey of a modelling mother, and who told us she has landed multiple campaigns and modeling jobs as a result. Another example is New York comedian Dan Nainan, who has landed many jobs including the famous Mac vs PC commercial through posting his work on YouTube.

No matter your opinion of social media, it has done some amazing things for ordinary people. You have to ask yourself – what would have happened to Ted Williams if social media hadn’t come to his aid?

John Lai was born in Malaysia, on a little island called Borneo. He grew up in New Zealand and was one of our earliest experimenters of the new-wave social media platforms under the handle "@iamjohnlai". He co-founded Social Media NZ in early 2009 to provide a hub for people to keep up to date with new-media trends and share knowledge about how they're helping shape and change NZ. He is a hot chocolate addict, sports nut and loves travelling.

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