Likes Don’t Save Lives

UNICEF Sweden has a new ad campaign reminding people that while social media Likes are nice, what they really need is money to fund their vaccination campaigns.

As The Verge points out, “Facebook likes aren’t treated as currency in other commercial venues, so they shouldn’t be equated with charitable donations.”

And via The Atlantic:

In the beginning, organizations wanted you to like the heck out of their Facebook pages. Why? You know, community-building, awareness-raising, general “engagement”-upping…

…But one thing clicking “like” doesn’t do is, say, get malaria nets to African villages or boost funding for charity groups. And now that Facebook is nearly 9 years old and Twitter is 7, we’re seeing the inevitable backlash against social-media “slacktivism.”

Back to The Verge:

The campaign, created by ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors, takes a rather bold stance against the awareness campaigns that often spread across Facebook and other social media platforms. UNICEF officials acknowledge that such efforts can help introduce issues to a wider audience, though they fear that for most users, the action stops with the click of a button. To further stress this point, UNICEF Sweden released a bold poster alongside the video clips, saying that every like it receives on Facebook will result in exactly zero vaccinations.

That’s not to say “slacktivists” are a bad thing. Liking, sharing and reblogging do serve their purpose in bringing issues to a wider audience. But then what?

Last year, The Atlantic notes, Zeynep Tufekci, a sociology professor and a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, had this to say:

What is called commonly called slacktivism is not at all about “slacking activists;” rather it is about non-activists taking symbolic action—often in spheres traditionally engaged only by activists or professionals (governments, NGOs, international institutions.). Since these so-called “slacktivists” were never activists to begin with, they are not in dereliction of their activist duties. On the contrary, they are acting, symbolically and in a small way, in a sphere that has traditionally been closed off to “the masses” in any meaningful fashion.

The goal then for those working in social media is to simultaneously help the “slacktivist” set help you by building out ambient awareness of an issue through the messaging you create, while also giving activists and more consistently loyal proponents direct calls to action be it donations, volunteerism, network building, etc.

Meantime, if you’re moved to Like a cause, consider volunteering your time and/or other resources to it as well.

The other two commercials in UNICEF’s campaign can be viewed at The Verge. — Michael

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