Mar.23

How Social Media & Influencers Catapulted Autism Awareness – #carlytakeover

Every morning for about two decades, I’ve watched Breakfast Television Toronto at some point before I head off to school or work. Because I started working in Toronto, it became apart of my morning routine to listen to the Breakfast Television Crew. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I changed my plans thanks to BT relaying the news about GO Transit delays or accidents on our highways. All in all, your typical Toronto morning.

I’ve known Kevin Frankish as a news anchor since I was a kid, to me morning news isn’t the same without Frankish. Frankish always had interesting and thought provoking insights into us as people and he isn’t afraid to try something new.

On February 26th, 2016, CityNews anchor Kevin Frankish decided to let a young girl with Autism, Carly Fleischmann, take control of his Twitter account. Why exactly? 

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It isn’t just autism awareness… this was a dialogue! There are several cases of Autistic individuals who are able to communicate through using computers because they are able to convey their thoughts in written form. Frankish let Fleischmann take control of his Twitter for the day to have his followers, many of them I may add, ask Fleischmann questions about autism.

With the leverage that Frankish had on Twitter and TV, Fleischmann was bombarded with questions and inquiries about what’s it like to live with autism. Fleischmann even appeared live on camera, which is rare!

For the day, Frankish’s name on Twitter was changed to “Carly Fleischmann” and she proceeded to answer as many of the tweets as possible. This was obviously tough for her, but she managed to pull through

When I saw Frankish advertise this live, I immediately headed to the computer to add his Twitter account to Crowdbabble and study his Twitter analytics. I wanted to know if Frankish’s influence would get people talking about autism… how much do people actually care autism?

With the hashtag #carlytakeover, people were able to Tweet in their questions while also mentioning Frankish’s handle.

So what happened? Well… I was pleasantly surprised.

Kevin’s engagement on Twitter skyrocketed! Even looking at the historical data over a few months, nothing compares to when Carly used Frankish’s Twitter account! Below, we have a historical record over the last few months and Frankish’s engagement is the highest on Feb 26th. He had over 3.5K in engagement for the day when Fleischmann took over.

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It wasn’t just Toronto engaging with Fleischmann, all of Canada took part in the discussion! In fact, many others around the world also took part to talk to Fleischmann and learn more about Autism.

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Out of all the tweets, most people were tweeting from Android or an iPhone, further demonstrating how mobile centric the world has become.

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Through Crowdbabble’s social media analytics platform, the data was clear, people cared about autism and wanted to learn more from an Autistic person’s perspective. For people with the condition, social media allowed them to communicate what they experienced in a safe way. More importantly, it raised a lot of awareness of how capable these individuals are, removing a lot of negative stigma about the condition.

Thank you Carly for opening up to the world about Autism. It’s clear that social media is one of the best ways to connect and engage with people so we can slowly understand what it’s like for people with Autism. What’s clear is that generally, Autism doesn’t always stop people and are no more different than you or I. They enjoy many of the same things and are just as capable on social media. We hope this serves as a model example of how to raise awareness with social media and influencers.