Batkid a Boon for San Francisco, Make-A-Wish—and Now to Pay It Forward

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A heartwarming event triggered a win-win situation for five year-old Miles Scott and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which earlier this week orchestrated a super hero-sized ‘wish’ that turned San Francisco into Gotham City and Scott into “Batkid.”

Cruising the city in his Batmobile (a Lamborghini), Scott captured the hearts of millions following along on social media—even prompting a Vine video from President Obama.  

Miles recently finished chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, and his wish to be a crime-fighting superhero for a day is one for the books in how to pull-off a successful social media event with a little planning, a little savvy and a little moxie.

And while Scott’s wish was perhaps unique, his is just one of thousands that the foundation grants every year. So why did this particular stunt grow to such viral proportions?[more]


It turns out that the foundation had a slew of pro-bono help behind the scenes, perhaps most significantly from Clever Girls Collective, a social media company that orchestrated the event’s viral take-off. Clever Girls handled all the social media in the Twitter-focused campaign and deployed its 6,000-plus network of paid influencers to spread the word as the event snowballed. The coverage included a morning-of Twitter chat that called for donations to the foundation and further elevated the event’s signature hashtag, #SFBatkid. 

The social team posted pictures to the foundation’s local Twitter while others amplified standout #SFbatkid tweets. The crowds swelled to near 20,000 and the event blossomed into a full-blown production, complete with big-screen TVs and high-tech staging. But while the wildly successful event left the city united for a day, it also racked up a $105,000 tab. 

But what makes Batkid’s story so much more deserving of fame than the thousands of other moving events that never see the light of the internet? 

“Batkid was a manufactured story. Trumped up by the usual suspects, like BuzzFeed and the HuffPo whose whole existence is predicated on link-bait, headlines which seem intriguing that can give you a respite from your normally dreary work day,” said internet seer Bob Lefsetz. “Even though they’ve rarely got calories, and like drugs they leave you feeling worse off than better. You want to be famous in the Internet era, you want to get rich? Then play the game. Create something that people want to spread.”

Batkid epitomizes something people wanted to spread. The campaign received nearly 600,000 tweets and 1.7 billion total Twitter impressions between November 5 and 16, with the Make-a-Wish website receiving 1,000 hits per second at a peak, causing the site to crash.

Here’s hoping some of that virality outlasts the Twitter chatter and continues to boost the brand behind the magic. One effort by Scott’s own family, the Batkid Fund, will exist to pay forward the goodwill the family received from organizations like Make-A-Wish, the Ronald McDonald House and a regional medical center in Oregon. 

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