Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A Social Media Awakening

Why charities are now starting to campaign against people 'Liking' them on social media

Throughout my PhD topic of analysing charitable marketing on social media,  I have passionately held the opinion that measuring social media pages and content using measures of popularity such as likes or followers is severely limited and represents something far more like slacktivism than real charitable activism. In the last couple of months, I have come across a couple of campaigns by charities that are acknowledging this, and are directly targeted against people simply Liking posts on Facebook.

Firstly, UNICEF Sweden posted a campaign stating that "Likes don't save lives", emphasising the point that each like they receive leads to exactly 0 children being vaccinated against polio. While they are not trying to appear ungrateful for people's support on social media,  it is an important message to tell people that by clicking and moving on in social media, they are not helping the charity's cause. I like the idea here - using social media such as YouTube (see one of their video campaigns below) to help spread the word that social media engagement is not enough to save lives. It would be great to hear from UNICEF following this to see if they were able to measure any subsequent increase in monetary donations. 

Additionally, last month I became aware of Crisis Relief Singapore's "Liking isn't helping" campaign, where real photographs of crisis areas are modified to include the Facebook thumbs up "Like" symbol, and captioned "Liking isn't helping"

"Liking isn't helping" campaign developed by Publicis Singapore with Crisis Relief Singapore
These are two very emotive examples of campaigns that are now pleading with social media users not to think that by clicking Like on Facebook, they are helping to solve problems that charities are trying to deal with. It isn't a backlash against social media use - and if anything, social media will be essential in creating the awareness of this issue, along with the issues each charity is trying to solve. New processes for tracking the success of these campaigns, in terms of the resulting output, are required and the measuring of Likes should be saved for determining the potential outreach of a message.

As Oreo discovered during the Superbowl in February 2013, social media is a brilliant opportunity to get some attention. But even a massive corporate organisation such as Oreo were unable to determine how many extra cookies they sold from gaining 15000 retweets during the power cut that interrupted the game. So how can charities, with far fewer resources, attempt to improve on that? I'm aiming to discover what measures can be used to help create a link here, between awareness and engagement on social media, and action in an offline "real" setting. The two examples above demonstrate just how imperative this is, and it is great to see that campaigns are now addressing this point.


@lisaharris said...

Great post Chris. Interesting that not all "actions" on social media are alike though. I've also noticed an increase in charities requesting "shares" rather than "likes" to make better use of the network effects and acknowledgement within google's algorithm

Chris said...

Thanks Lisa. I think "shares" are an interesting one as well because they provide a larger presence in the Facebook news feed, and therefore probably have a better chance of being noticed by their supporters' network of contacts.