From parody to charity: How @lizjonessomalia’s 172 tweets raised £25000 in 2 weeks

In the last few weeks social media has taken a battering but at the same time a great case study for how social media can be a force for good was born.  @LizJonesSomalia the Twitter account parodying Daily Mail reporter Liz Jones’s trip to Somalia has raised almost £25000 with nothing more than comedy and timing.

Liz Jones, better known for her insightful writing on such varied topics as 'If you're too bolshy to put on some lippy, why should any firm give you a job?' and the unforgettable 'If face creams really beat ageing, I wouldn't have had a facelift' was sent to report on the devastating famine in Somalia, from a refugee camp in Kenya. Understandably, almost every free thinking person thought this somewhat crass, but only one person channelled their energy for good.

Through the @lizjonessomalia Twitter account, over the duration of her visit, the wit of the Daily Mail’s own parodier @DMreporter kept 8500 followers amused with some of the darkest satire I have seen. The tweets are so cutting they are should read them from start to finish, but here are my top five:

  • I'm speaking English slower. I'm speaking English louder. Still these people don't understand me.
  • I saw a man with a solid gold machine gun today. I wanted to take a picture using my Hipstamatic app but Aasiya told me to leave him alone.
  • People in Somalia take Ramadan very seriously. Let's hope it ends soon, I can't bear to see people not eating.
  • Very hard to get quotes on the record. Most people too weak to talk, or too distressed to be comprehended. Frustrating.
  • The refugees are lovely too. One little girl said how sorry she was to hear of the difficulties I was having selling my house. At least I think that's what she said. There was a lot of coughing.

Obviously famine is not funny and the spoof writer commented “I’ve tried to be really careful about never making famine, drought or death the target of the joke. This account is not about that. It’s about highlighting the crisis in East Africa and opposing the staggering crassness of sending a crossbreed of Glenn Beck and Anthea Turner to Somalia to cover it”.

The audience was engaged by comedy but also propelled to do something more by the references to a JustGiving page resulting in almost £25000 raised in just 2 weeks.

I think the quote from @DMReporter sums it up best "Isn't there something perversely brilliant about Liz Jones being sent to Somalia inspiring a charity drive in opposition to her? If that doesn't send her a message about her value as a journalist then nothing will".

The bottom line:

  • Two weeks
  • 172 tweets
  • Grew an audience of almost 8500
  • Almost £25000 raised for the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal

The learnings:

  • Timing is everything – this worked because the timing was right
  • Content and message – great writing is critical, but so is balancing the serious message so people willingly share it

I was really heartened to see social media used in this way, what do you think? Please comment below.


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For those with a strong stomach (the writing as much as the subject) then you can read Liz Jones’s final article.