Thursday, March 24th I had the pleasure of attending the Las Vegas Twestival that benefited Aid for AIDS of Nevada. Twestival, standing for Twitter Festival, was designed to use social media to connect communities around the world and highlight a charity during a social event. Twestival began as a single event in London back in 2008 and now has grown into a global movement, covering 45 countries and raising close to $1.2 million for 137 causes.  This year, more than 200 cities in the United States hosted a Twestival event that benefited local charities.

Nominations poured into the local Twestival coordinators once Las Vegas was announced as a participating city. After weeks of deliberating, they chose AFAN as the beneficiary. The viral announcement of the recipient created a buzz within the social media realm resulting in the #LVTwestival hash tag to trend in Las Vegas. Local businesses caught wind of the Twestival and donated prizes that were to be used for the silent auction as well as signed on as sponsors for the event.

Ready to tweet away the evening, I arrived at the stunning Caramel Bar & Lounge inside the Bellagio Hotel where I was surprised to find a line of local community members, donors, and social media influencers awaiting to enter the venue.  Once inside, the cocktail hour had begun and guests were treated to complimentary Stoli drinks, while they mingled with other tweeps and bid on auction items. Televisions around the lounge streamed tweets from a variety of Twestivals happening simultaneous. This gave guests the opportunity to see what local participants were saying about the event as well as gage the success of other cities’ events. As the evening closed, AFAN representative, Theresa Mayet thanked the crowd for their continual support and invited everyone to attend the upcoming AIDS Walk.  Eager to know the outcome of the silent auction, bidders hovered around the auction table and as the clock struck 9:30 p.m. event coordinators circled the winners and delivered the prizes to their news owners.

After a successful evening of fundraising and tweeting, AFAN patiently waited for the announcement of the grand total. Finally, on March 28 the total was publicized, raising close to $1000 for AFAN and its effort to fight HIV/AIDS within Southern Nevada.  This event ultimately proved how powerful social media is after the success of an event that was virtually promoted through Twitter and Facebook. Twestival is definitely an organization to follow over the next few years as they gain recognition and make a difference for hundreds of charities not only nationally but globally. 

Photo credit to Ryan Shewchuck