Invisible Children managed to encourage over 79 million people to…watch a video. Yes, we are referring to their KONY 2012 film and campaign that sheds light on Joseph Kony in the hopes to raise awareness for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. But is this just another case of Slacktivism? Did anyone actually do anything? Did pressing ‘like’ or sharing on Facebook save any lives? Welcome to Slacktivism 101. While this word carries a heavy negative connotation, the meaning behind the word is pertinent and far-reaching. Even further, the implications behind the word speak volumes for an incredibly relevant issue plaguing many of the most seasoned social media marketers in our industry.
Quite simply the fusion of “slacker” and “activism”, Slacktivism is a buzzword that seems to keep appearing at the intersection of social movement and lack of action. And while the primary purpose behind these initiatives breeding Slacktivism is pure and good-natured, the problem lies in a fundamental misconception about social media marketing. I recently wrote an article about the “Fictional Social Media ROI” in reference to brands, their ability to leverage social media, and what capacity this medium actually retains. Social movements like KONY 2012 can be viewed in a similar light.
Social media marketers must get back to the basics to create a successful social campaign. The basics demand clearly outlined objectives, expectations, and strategy. These necessities are where Slacktivism comes in to play. Whether you are pushing a social cause, trying to gain Facebook fans for your brand, or attempting to increase CTR to your website, you must pay careful attention to your audience and the goals behind your campaign.
Slacktivism exists for a number of reasons; the following are some of the most prominent:
The Falsified Thought Leaders
“If I share this article and click ‘like’, my friends will think that I am aware and educated.” Yes, this sentence predominantly resides in the subconscious, but that doesn’t change the fact that a frightening number of people manage their lives on social media in this manner. Let’s face it; a person’s Facebook presence is commonly an elevated, exaggerated, often superhero-esque version of themselves. As social media marketers, we must be aware of this falsification. This goes back to your campaign’s objectives, expectations, and strategy. If your goals go beyond getting that ‘like’, you need to revisit strategy and investigate what will influence further action from your target audience.
We raised awareness…Now what?
Social causes generally commence with awareness. Slacktivism exists where action neglects to follow. Too many social media marketers come into campaigns with expectations that putting information out there will create some sort of magnetic force field that attracts action by the masses. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but this thinking will get you nowhere and fast. If your objectives lie beyond raised awareness, you must implement tactics in your social strategy that encourage more than just a ‘like’ or a share on Facebook.
KONY 2012 is a perfect example of what leads to Slacktivism. After watching the video, I took it upon myself to read up on the facts in order to make an educated opinion. While I won’t detail my discoveries, I will point out the fact that the video vastly oversimplified a very complicated issue in Uganda. Circling back to the basics of objectives, expectations, and strategy, the real question is, what was the purpose of that video? If the purpose was to raise awareness and buzz in social media, mission accomplished. Conversely, if the purpose was to promote political activism, then Houston, we have a problem.
When was the last time you changed your Facebook avatar to support a social cause? What else did you do to help? In a nutshell, this is Slacktivism.