#SurrenderYourSay Raises Awareness for Tourette Syndrome on Twitter

Tourette SyndromeLast week, the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada (TSFC), in collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi, launched #surrenderyoursay, a Twitter campaign that aimed to raise awareness for a disorder that can be difficult to comprehend, due to its unfortunate reputation as the “swearing” disease.

Participants donated their Twitter accounts to the TSFC for 24 hours. During that time, a series of tweets – inspired by real people with Tourette Syndrome (often referred to simply as ‘Tourette’s’) – was posted to volunteers’ accounts in random intervals. No one had to give up any personal information, including passwords, and participants could continue to tweet from their account while the event took place.

The TSFC tweets were framed as uncontrollable “tics,” similar in concept to how people with Tourette Syndrome experience verbal or physical tics during the day.

Here’s an example “tic” tweet:

With this campaign the TSFC hoped to offer people a glimpse into the experience of being truly unable to control their speech — and it seemed to work for most of those involved. Some participants, who either take their Twitter identities too seriously or simply missed the point of the exercise (or unknowingly demonstrated its effectiveness), didn’t enjoy being part of the experiment:

A commenter on the TSFC’s blog post “Surrender Your Say Reaches Over 3,000,000 People in First 24 Hours of Campaign” condemned the organization for allowing “promotion of the Hollywood-esque side of this disorder,” expressing his disappointment, as a person with Tourette Syndrome, in the campaign’s misguided efforts to de-stigmatize the disorder’s reputation as the “swearing disease”.

Criticism respectfully aside, the campaign did manage to garner a great deal of media attention to Tourette Syndrome, despite the fact that it may have invited some immaturity. But hey, that’s the internet! Here are the numbers as reported by the TSFC:

  • 8,905 people signed up to ‘surrender their say’
  • Surrender Your Say participants racked up 213,720 surrendered, awareness-raising hours
  • 3,998,376 people were reached by the 8,905 tweeters who ‘surrendered their say’
  • Many more learned about Surrender Your Say’s message through the abundant press coverage the project received

Is your brand creating meaningful engagements with followers and taking advantage of the nuances of Twitter communication exchange — or is it just talking out loud about itself?