**PRESS RELEASE: 70 Strangers Use Social Networking Site Twitter to Lose 1500 lbs.**
How do 70 virtual strangers sitting in front of their computers commit to collectively losing 1,500 lbs.? The answer is: Twitter.
Twitter is a fast-growing social networking and microblogging service that allows users to instantly message each other through updates (called “tweets”) of up to 140 characters in length. Users can stay connected with their network of “friends” whose updates they choose to “follow” on Twitter. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter), as of July 2008 there are over 2,200,000 registered users on Twitter.
So what does this service have to do with a major weight loss initiative? That’s where the Tweightloss Challenge comes in.
The Tweightloss Challenge is the brainchild of sisters and active Twitter users Audrey Couto McClelland and Jane Couto Porricelli, co-owners (along with their mother, Sharon Couto) of MomGenerations.com. One night McClelland shared with her followers that she still had 18 lbs. of baby weight to lose after giving birth to her fourth son 6 weeks ago. Many people in her network started “tweeting” that they had weight to lose, too, and McClelland thought that having the inspiration and the accountability of each other would be a great way to lose weight together.
The word spread quickly throughout Twitter that a weight loss initiative was being discussed, and McClelland quickly started hearing from other users who were interesting in joining in. She approached her sister, who is social media savvy, about spreading the word, organizing the initiative and naming it. Incidentally, Porricelli wanted to lose 20 lbs. herself. The sisters decided on the name “Tweightloss Challenge” and began putting it together.
McClelland and Porricelli designed the Tweightloss Challenge to be a 12-week program that encourages participants to begin a more healthy and active lifestyle, and hit a total weight loss goal over the course of the challenge. They divided the 70 participating members into 5 teams, each team with a total goal of approximately 250 lbs. to lose. They also assigned each team with a Team Leader/Trainer to guide his or her team along, answer questions and keep everyone motivated.
Each Monday during the challenge will be the “Tweigh-in” day, and McClelland and Porricelli will tally the teams’ total weight loss for the week. That night at 8 PM EST, McClelland and Porricelli will announce the “winning” team on Twitter, and randomly choose one person from that team to receive a prize from that week’s Tweightloss Challenge sponsor. Among the sponsors so far are Calorie King (http://www.calorieking.com/), The Competitive Edge/Tanita Corporation of America (http://www.thecompetitiveedge.com/), Gym Soap (http://www.gymsoap.com/) and Karen’s Kitsch (http://www.karenskitsch.com).
Twitter has been an excellent tool to allow the members of each team to stay in contact with each other throughout the day, and even to playfully “talk smack” with the competing teams. It is an instant form of communication that enables the Tweightloss Challenge participants to help each other stay on track no matter what time of day it is, or what time zones they are in. In addition, the team members stay in contact with each other through email, and two teams even began blogs.
This inaugural Tweightloss Challenge has been such a hit, and so many more Twitter users have found out about its successful start, that McClelland and Porricelli are already putting teams together for a second Tweightloss Challenge, to begin August 11, 2008.
Update: Tweightloss Challenge #2 began Monday, August 11th with 50 participants!
Jane Porricelli, Mom Generations co-owner
jane at pinksandblues dot com
Tweightloss Challenge button designed by Dawn
Grab the button code for your blog:
<a href=”http://momgenerations.com/blogs/jane/index.php/2008/07/31/using-social-media-to-get-fit-the-tweightloss-challenge-is-making-it-happen/”><img scr=”https://www.momgenerations.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/tweightlossbutton1.jpeg”></a>