Guest post: The Cure to Slacktivism May Be Easier Than You Think.

slacktivismHere’s a guest post about by freelance social media manager, Anita Reid, on the rise of slacktivism.

Digital has given nonprofits the platform to put the issues they fight for at the forefront of the social conscience. An audience of millions can be reached in seconds. Social media in particular has given these organisations a fantastic outlet to get involved. Unfortunately, this ease has led to a new type of campaigner – slacktivists.

What Are Slacktivists Exactly?

Slacktivists are people that want to do good, but without doing much. They’ll tweet a story about a cause they feel connected to, argue about social issues on Facebook, but never take tangible action.

So what’s the problem?

While a ‘like’, ‘share’ or ‘tweet’ is fine and dandy, it won’t actually help. Nonprofits get the social traction on the various platforms, but when it comes to counting donations, there’s a lot to be desired. Symbolic action doesn’t really lead to change. In fact, these platforms may actually encourage less giving. Studies from University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business have shown that non-profits sometimes assume that social support translates to actual contributions. But this isn’t always the case and often  the opposite is true, when people are satisfied they’ve done their part simply by sharing.

Likes Don’t Save Lives

Unicef’s campaign in Sweden exemplifies just how much of a problem this has become. The tagline called for more than just social media action: Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 15.43.45 “Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio.” Unicef has nothing against likes of course. They encourage their supporters to get involved on the various social platforms. However, vaccines cost money. You can’t buy vaccines with likes, no matter how many you get.

But slacktivists can help

However, it would be unfair to brand all slacktivists as lost causes. In fact, most have good intentions, even if they don’t go through with them. The trick is in making the meaningful part as easy as clicking ‘Like’. For example, provide the ability to donate via SMS. This makes it as easy to give money as to get involved on social media.

Mater Prize Homes

If you’re not sure how you can make your fundraising easy to access, turn to the Mater Foundation and their Prize Homes lottery to see how it’s done. The idea of the campaign was to give people the chance to win something through a lottery you could enter for $2 (lowering the barriers). For a local campaign, the results were stellar:

  • 1,364 entries via text message at sporting events
  • 1,265 online entries via the mobile website
  • 1,729 messages sent to friends to encourage involvement
  • Almost 3,000 entries in total

To turn slactivists into activists, campaigns like this should have easy calls to action and be on their playing field.

Help is more than money

Don’t  assume the only way slacktivists can help is by making a donation to your cause. After all, not everyone can whip out their credit or debit cards. But they can still make a contribution. Take Movember as an example. Movember is about increasing awareness simply by guys leaving a bit of fuzz on their faces. Fundraising like this makes it easy for anyone to take part. Likewise, the #nomakeupselfie campaign during which women were asked to post selfies of themselves with no makeup on to raise awareness for cancer was a huge hit online. Although controversy has surrounded this campaign with some saying there should be nothing brave about women posting pictures while they’re not wearing makeup (and that those who do are being egotistical), the campaign has raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK in a matter of weeks – with text to donate at the heart of it.

Channel slacktivism

SlacktivismSlacktivists are not completely lazy. They have motivation – it just needs to be channelled. Consider the following. Slacktivists have been shown to be:

  • 2x more likely to volunteer
  • 2x more likely to ask others for donations
  • 4x more likely to encourage friends and family (as well as complete strangers!) to sign a petition
  • 2x more likely to get involved in an event

Once pushed in the right direction, the power of the slacktivist is enormous. They just need your campaigns to give them the easy means for lift-off.

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