‘Slacktivism’ vs. Activism and its Effect on Social Profitability

Can your target audience be motivated into action through social media?

Supporting activist and advocacy groups, by simply “Clicking”, ‘Tweeting”, “Liking” or “Sharing” their message through social media platforms seems to be the latest trend. In this age of smartphones, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (among others), it seems as though this is an easy way to cast a wide net, attain local and global outreach and allow for rapid dissemination of information. So, is Social Profitability really just a click away?

This latest movement to support causes online, especially through social media, has been coined “slacktivism”, a term that combines the words ‘slacker’ and ‘activism’. The inference is that the peer-to-peer actions used to support issues or social causes involve virtually no effort or cost on the part of participants.

Connecting through posting and sharing of statuses, information and images within the slacktivist’s social network, the feeling is that with one click, he or she has helped support the cause. The slacktivist doesn’t feel like they have to get out there and get dirty building homes for the homeless, or run or bike for to help cure anything, or even donate their coffee money.

If slacktivism is measured only by gaining awareness of a cause, then I suppose there is a place for it, but a cause needs more than just awareness. In and of itself, it is not enough. We need to be realistic about what is going to create advocacy and long-term support.

Awareness is only one part of a multi-tiered set of tools we employ. To be successful, causes need the activation of such things as social change, fundraising, participation, and the like.

If I look at the causes and events that have been the most successful, participants become activated right from the start. They feel more involvement as they actually have “skin in the game”.

To minimize attrition, we ask participants to pay registration fees or make a self-pledge to kick-start their fundraising efforts. These actions demonstrate to both themselves and the organization, a commitment that leads to sustainability and a higher degree of engagement.

In doing so, we’re creating real zealots who will do more to contribute to the cause than simply ‘clicking’ and ‘sharing’. By activating these individuals, we are tapping into their resources – their families, communities and yes, social networks, in a far more profound way.

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