Social media means something different for everyone, but at its core, it is about relationships. The benefits are different depending on the goal. More importantly, the undeniable potential of building a deeper connection is there for the taking, as long as you’re human, authentic, and real throughout the process. This parallels real life; in any relationship, you get out of it what you put into it. So we brainstormed a campaign as a way to help us prove the power which social media relationships can have, and how they contribute to building real world relationships.

This idea came about over a recent dinner with friends (including DJ Waldow and myself) we had only met over social media, and finally this night in person for the first time.  The conversation flowed from topic to topic like the wine at the table. Family, work, silly stories, and Hollywood celebrities. “Who would you be friends with in Hollywood if you could?” Matt Damon. Penny Marshall. Angelina Jolie (really…). Donald Sutherland. And then right back around to what brought us together… social.

It was clear that not everyone at the table believed in the power of the network, and its ability to ignite and help flourish never before possible relationships with people you could only imagine ever meeting in person.

 CAMP #1: Believed in the power of social to forge real life friendships. – “You can absolutely use social to connect with anyone!”

 CAMP #2: Believed social inhibited making real world relationships. – “The friendships you make on social are not real friends; there’s no way they can be.”

And so this debate sparked the idea: Our hypothesis:  “Would it actually be possible to reach someone everyone knew, who was so approachable yet so unreachable, using the power of social media to have lunch with them in person?”

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We chose Ellen DeGeneres. Why Ellen? Ellen seems to be one of the most approachable Hollywood celebrities. She and her team are very active on all of the major social channels. However, Ellen is also one of the most sought after – and therefore unattainable celebrities in Hollywood. So we chose Ellen to help prove that social media can build a friendship using social media as the conduit.

Here is our approach to the campaign:

1. Creating awareness – we know that in order to reach Ellen, we need to leverage our groups on platforms like LinkedIn within our personal interest and relationship connections we have established. The results so far in our first few days have netted a reach of over 2.2 million (documented using Mutual Mind). Nice start out of the gates!

2. Peeling the Onion – we know that in order for Ellen to trust us we need to prove ourselves and we have 90 days of content in store. Trust is one of the biggest things social can help you to build between two or more people and we plan on building trust on social media to help gain the rapport we know we need to ultimately have lunch with Ellen.

3. Establishing Connection– working through our personal and professional networks, we hope to eventually use our connections to establish some direct links into Ellen’s team, or even Ellen herself.

4. Giving Back: there has to be something in this for Ellen above having lunch with two fun guys. In the true spirit of social media, and the fluidity it embodies so well, we’ve decided to add a charitable component to the campaign that we think will benefit everyone involved. Since we’re trying to have lunch with Ellen, we figured, why shouldn’t everyone eat? One of the many charities that Ellen DeGeneres openly supports is http://feedingamerica.org, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Their mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

So here’s what we’re going to do:

  • We will use our social media networks, and everyone we can think of, to help get the attention of restaurants in America – if we’re going to have lunch with Ellen, we’re going to need somewhere to host it.
  • The restaurant that donates the most money to Feeding America will ultimately win. We hope many will give to help feed our fellow American’s – but the most generous restaurant will earn the right to host us for lunch.
  • There’s no guarantee this lunch will come to fruition. Ellen has no idea who we are. She’s a busy woman with many commitments. But we’re hoping that the power of our networks to reach her, and generous restaurants across America, will get her attention to prove our point and help an amazing organization along the way.

Final Thought: This real world experiment will help us prove our belief in social media and how our professional networks today have truly redefined how proximity inhibits our abilities to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime. When conversations are as authentic as they are face-to-face, you can find friends around the globe whom you’ve never met in person who care as much about helping you grow business, passions and friendships as much as you do. Connections are the new currency we believe, and we hope to have lunch to prove it.

To Learn more about #90DaysToEllen and FeedAmerica.org campaign, visit: http://www.90daystoellen.com