This case study will be included in my next book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate (the follow up to Now Is Gone). The case study is a little more special than most, because it involves a friend, Mark Horvath. Connecting with Mark, a kindred spirit in many ways, has been one of the best results of my online career over the past two years. I wish Mark well with new his We Are Visible initiative (see the following video).
Mark Horvath is a free agent, a one man army who has taken social media tools to fight homeless ness as a video blogger, and now because of his efforts as a veritable charity. What started and continues as InvisiblePeople.tv has recently evolved to include,
We Are Visible (wearevisible.com), a site that provides homeless people online tools to communicate, connect, tell their story, and engage in action.
InvisiblePeople.tv wants to change the general public’s paradigms on homelessness. Basically, they empower homeless people to tell their own story via YouTube, Twitter and InvisiblePeople.tv. The strategy revolves around content through good storytelling, and providing real tangible actions; and a participation ethos of treating everyone with respect, doing what is right even when others don’t, and gratitude.
“The goal is to make the ‘invisible people’ in society more visible by bringing them out of the shadows where they are ignored,” said Horvath. “We’re using social media to expose the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions of people face each day.”
Since its launch in November 2008, InvisiblePeople.tv has used video blog (vlog) entries and social networks to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances.
Each week, Horvath highlights homeless citizens stories on InvisiblePeople.tv, and high traffic sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, proving to a global audience that while they may often be ignored, they are far from invisible. One story at a time, videos posted on InvisiblePeople.tv deliver a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations and everyday citizens now committed to participating in the fight against homelessness. In addition, founder Mark Horvath is an outstanding networker at conferences and online, cultivating strong relationships with critical influencers across the blogosphere.
At the time of writing, Horvath had just launched We Are Visible, which provides people dealing with poverty and homelessness the tools they need to get online and have a voice. The site teaches them how to sign up for email, open a Twitter account,
join Facebook, create a blog and, in general, take advantage of the benefits of online social media. It also has the potential to become a model for virtual case management as it helps build a community among
homeless people and support service providers.
Horvath would tell you that hits, page views, followers are probably all important. But the real results happen when people take actions. Here are some of the many actions Horvath has inspired:
- Getting a homeless veteran’s RV out of impound.
- Starting housing programs.
- Providing shelter for homeless citizens.
- Provisioning homeless children with new shoes.
- A farmer donated 40 acres of land that is now being used to supplement food for low income families at a public school.
- Providing a homeless citizen with a tablet to blog.
- Providing shelter and gifts to homeless family during Christmas
“There is far too many things to list,” said Horvath. “YouTube gave us the front page for 24 hours and over 2 million people touched homelessness who would have probably rolled down their window at an exit ramp.
“The cool thing about We Are Visible is that homeless people are helping other homeless people,” continued Horvath. “I didn’t expect that. One homeless father is even collecting cans to print We Are Visible flyers to hand out.”