Dearborn woman trades Twitter handle for water for Flint
When Diana Hussein, 29, of Dearborn, chose her Twitter handle seven years ago, she barely gave it a second thought.
But the name she picked would end up being very important.
Important to her, but even more so to the water-starved residents of Flint who would end up with a truckload of bottled water out of the deal.
So what was the Twitter handle? @DietDrPepper.
“I created my handle using what was the nearest thing to me: a can of soda on my desk,” Hussein said in an online conversation with the Free Press.
Hussein, a communications specialist, has been using the name to tweet about Detroit sports and “a lot about my cats,” she said.
When she first picked her handle, it was the early days of Twitter, and companies had barely begun to see the social media platform as an advertising opportunity.
“I never expected Twitter to take off in the way it did, where brands would be all over, including sodas with their own accounts,” Hussein said.
@DietDrPepper would end up being her leverage in an effort to help in Flint, where families continue to struggle to get their hands on clean water after the city water system became contaminated with lead.
In 2013, Hussein thought she might want to shed the Twitter name and find one that suited her better. So she reached out to the Dr Pepper parent company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG), to see if the company was interested in the handle, but got nowhere.
It wasn’t until mid-January that someone from DPSG started reaching out to her, “pretty aggressively,” said Hussein.
The company made a proposal: Hand over the @DietDrPepper name in exchange for some official swag.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at first. Just about everyone I spoke to told me that I shouldn’t just give them the handle. Especially not just for ‘swag,'” Hussein said.
Eventually, Hussein learned that DPSG also owned the DeJa Blue water brand and her idea came to life in the form of a counter offer.
In lieu of swag, she asked for the company to donate bottled water to the residents of Flint.
Their offer? $5,000 worth of water, equivalent to about 41,000 bottles.
On March 3, DeJa Blue sent an entire truckload of bottled water to Flint.
“I had been feeling kind of helpless. Still do, really. But I’m glad I had an opportunity like this present itself for me to be able to take advantage,” Hussein said.
Despite the contribution, Hussein continues her push to find more help for Flint, urging people to donate, if possible.
“When you hear about what they’re having to do right now,” she said, “it doesn’t seem like there could be enough water.”
If you’d like to know how you can help in Flint, whether it’s monetary, a water dropoff, or by volunteering your time, visit this link.
Hussein can now be found on Twitter as @HeyaDiana.